We were side-lined this past weekend with Strep. While one of my little men was choking down his nasty medicine, I found myself taking a few doses of a different medicine: conviction.
With a high fever and a sad little fella, my big plans of visiting the zoo with dear friends were scratched, opening up endless hours homebound. I snuggled up on the couch to read a few books, expecting enjoyment. What I received, however, were some timely indictments.
I consider us fairly simple people. We only do three Christmas gifts for each child, since Jesus Himself received three (I must confess, however, that I jam pack their stockings). When I sat down a few weeks ago to order my children’s Christmas presents, I found myself paralyzed in my Amazon clicking by harrowing images of the Syrian refugee crisis. Suddenly, my anticipation of our simple Christmas was put into perspective.
We have been striving to be simple by American standards.The seeds of conviction were planted.
Fast forward to this weekend. I’m snuggled on the couch reading Simplicity Parenting. The pre-Christmas timing was clearly ordained by a loving Father.
“Our generous impulses can also go awry. After all, if toys are seen as universally beneficial, then we have an unlimited pass to buy, buy, buy, and buy one or two more. What started as a generous desire to please and provide can assume its own life. It can become addictive, feeding our own needs rather than our children’s….We buy new toys with a degree of compulsiveness that children pick up on…What comes through to our children, loud and clear, is ‘Happiness can be bought!’ and ‘You are the center of the universe.'”
I looked around our house. While I purge on a regular basis, I still found 3 bags of books we never read or don’t enjoy and a bag or two of toys that are simply not necessary. In the process of bagging up the accumulation of unnecessary stuff, I felt the sense of freedom that comes when we are convicted by God, rather than condemned. Conviction always comes from God and leads back to Him. It is life-giving and freeing and specific. Condemnation, on the other hand, does not come from God nor lead back to Him. It is general and fuzzy and leads to further selfishness.
Despite my best attempts to live differently as compelled by Christ and His priorities, I have been baited by the consumeristic mindset. I have fallen prey to justifying comparison. “Compared to so-and-so, we keep things simple. We only do three small gifts, and they are usually thrifted. We aren’t rich.”
Oh, how rich we are. When I see pictures of the refugee situation or of life in most of the world, I find myself in the rich category.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope not the uncertainly of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Timothy 6:17-19.
I have been unwittingly teaching my children to consume (even if on a tight budget), as my own hope so quickly leaks out from God and into the comfort and security that drowns our culture.
I am not swearing off Christmas. In fact, very little will change in the way things look outwardly. Three small gifts and a donation toward those less fortunate, this year the Syrian refugee crisis, for each child. However, my heart has been checked. I am more aware of my own cravings for more, for nicer, for newer.
I long to model generosity of time, treasures and talents more often than I model the consumerism that can so slyly consume me. The motivation for this is not to be more simple or to be moral. The motivation is more life, the life that is life indeed which is dictated by the One who created and ordered all life.
Less for more. More of Him and His joy and His ways. Less clutter in our home and in our hearts makes more space for His contagious life in us and our home.
Medicine that often tastes bad going down always brings healing. I’m thankful for a heaping dose of timely medicine.