They say “less is more” and as I age I find that I do want less—in my home, and in my routine. But there is so much stuff! Max Lucado wrote: “We are a nation that believes in having it all. In 1950 American families owned one car and saved for a second. In 2000 nearly one in five families owned three cars or more ... Americans shell out more for garbage bags than ninety of the world's two hundred and ten countries spend for everything. In 1900 the average person living in the US wanted seventy-two different things and considered eighteen of them essential. Today the average person wants five hundred things and considers over one hundred of them essential.” Wow! (From his book “Cure for the Common Life.”)
Our prosperity carries a hefty price tag. Most of us feel the stress of a hectic, frenetic and cluttered lifestyle. Clutter often involves all aspects of living—having stuff and doing stuff. Chuck Swindoll in his book “So, You Want to Be Like Christ?” writes a chapter on “Simplicity, Uncluttering our Minds.” At one point he shares five steps toward achieving a cluttered mind. Here they are:
- Say yes every time someone asks you to do something.
- Don't plan any time for leisure and rejuvenation.
- Don't be satisfied with your accomplishments—keep moving.
- Max out your credit cards beyond what you can repay.
- Acquire all the latest technology so you can simplify your life.
There is a Mayan curse about gift giving: instead of giving the gift of time and attention to each other, give something that someone has to take care of—you know—time suck stuff that needs tending. Give gifts that need upkeep, repair, safe guarding. As we head (over heels) toward Christmas, maybe you might want to give some thought to what you are gifting to someone you care about—who will then (at least at some point) have to make decisions about what to “seek and save.”
Personally, I think the answer for a more God-centered life is found in simplicity. We must learn to simplify our lives—seeking and saving what has worth for a true Christian life. The reward is a life less complicated, not more entangled. You will have more time, not less. You will let go of caring for things and start spending time caring for yourself and your loved ones. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a long-lasting, satisfying, rewarding, intimate relationship with God, and with each other. I think that is what is worth seeking and saving—that is truly amazing grace. As we near the end of our liturgical year, and the beginning of a new one, why not try to take the time now to tally up the stuff in your life, and make your “Seeking and Saving” lists. You don’t need a death in the family to get started...