Downsizing (Day 1 from Beside Still Waters)
". . . In a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some of honor and some of dishonor."
2 Timothy 2:20 KJV
THIS IS GOING TO be harder than I thought, how can I take thirty years of memories and decide what I can take and what I have to leave behind; where do I start! For the next hour, all I could do was walk around our home, a flood of emotion swept over me with each memory. I remember the day we came to look at it, it wasn’t what I wanted at all, but when we walked through the door I instantly felt like the Lord had led us here, this was to be our home. I could envision the way the staircase looked when we decorated it with garland and lights for Christmas, and the smell of dinner cooking. I could almost smell fresh paint from when we remodeled, and see the message we left on the wall in every room, “. . . As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV). While renovating one of the rooms we discovered a window that had been covered over and thought it would be fun to leave something for future generations to discover. While my husband added a couple of shelves to the frame the rest of us gathered items to seal inside; we came up with a history of the house; a picture of the family who had built it, as well as a picture of the four of us; a few artifacts we had discovered, a new testament and a dollar; I could almost imagine what they would say when it was discovered. We loved antiques and this old house, built in 1867, was made for them. I look over to the sideboard I had bought from my sister, it was one of my favorite pieces, my eyes filled with tears knowing I wouldn’t be able to take it with us; the new place was just too small. Then I looked up at the display shelf that my husband had built to showcase my tea sets and antique dishes, I would have to choose which ones I wanted to take and which to leave behind. It seemed like I spent most of the day drying my tears. I knew the library would be the next room to pull at my heartstrings, and it was. The Lord had given me such a love for books, but I knew I couldn’t take them all. I ran my hands over each one, touching the pages, staring down at them trying to decide which to take to the new house. I only have enough room for two small bookcases; the rest of my library would remain behind. When it came time to remove the pictures one in particular held a lot of memories for me. My mother, who went home to be with the Lord a few years ago, had commissioned an artist to do a watercolor of the house as a housewarming gift. I was torn because I felt in my heart the Lord wanted me to leave it for the new owners, but for sentimental reasons I really wanted it. I must have taken that picture down and put it back a thousand times; in the end, I went with my heart. There was one other that no matter what I was determined I wasn’t leaving it behind. After I closed my store the picture of Forgiven that had hung at the top of the stairs was now hanging in our foyer. I have no idea where I was going to put it but I was determined it was going with me. With each room, I entered it was the same thing and I felt like my life was being torn apart. I kept telling myself they were just things, but they weren’t, they meant more to me than that. When it was all done it seemed like we were leaving more than we were taking. Had we made a mistake in selling, we loved this house; it was our first home.
The last few years had been difficult; it seemed every time I turned around I was sorting through my life. When my mother passed away I had her things to go through, then I had to close my store and sort through everything there, and now trying to make a decision on what to take and what to leave behind. I felt torn between my past and an unknown future; the downsizing of our home, retiring from our jobs where we had been for thirteen years, the move; at times it seemed overwhelming.
Every day after work it was the same thing, more sorting, and even more tears when it came time for bed we were exhausted. There was one night I was so tired I couldn’t sleep so I went to my library and just sat in the dark, I had been there a while when the Lord started to speak to my heart. He reminded me that for many years I had dreamed of living on the lake, but before I was ready for the life He had for me there, I had a few things we needed to take care of. Because of circumstances that had unfolded the last few years I had a lot of negative feelings about myself and had withdrawn from life in general. The last few months I had been doing better but there were still things buried I just wasn’t ready to deal with, but it seemed the Lord felt now was the time. As his custom with me, I was about to get a life lesson on downsizing. From very early in my Christian walk he had taught me to hide his word in my heart. When I was too despondent to read my bible and study like I used to, it was all that kept me going; so when he gave me a scripture in 1Timothy 2:20-21, I had an idea where this night was going. “. . . in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful fit for the Master, prepared for every good work” ( NKJV). Timothy is using a metaphor to speak of a person who has a pure heart before God. However to achieve this he goes on to say in verses 22 through 25 that we must set aside the things of our past to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace; that we must avoid anything that would cause strife with another, but be kind to everyone, gentle in correction and not to be resentful when mistreated. That was a tall order when considering the events of the last few years, from professional to family it seemed like every area of my life had been putting me to the test. I remembered early in my walk with the Lord when He dealt with me on healing the wounds of my past; He is so gentle and loving that the hurt just seemed to melt away. I always found it amazing that the Lord used words to teach me, as well as heal when for years it was words that defeated me. I knew tonight would not be any different.
During biblical times there were two means of cleansing or purification, one was by sacrifice, however, I knew the only sacrifice God wanted from me was a humble and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). He knew my spirit was still crushed by the weight of guilt I was carrying and wanted me to surrender it to him. As I sat there in the stillness I lifted my hand before God; I thought my heart would burst with the pain as I felt him reach down into it and pull out every shred of guilt that had taken root. I didn’t think I had any more tears, but they just kept coming. I don’t know how long I sat there until the Lord was ready for me to continue. As I wiped the tears from my face He reminded me of the spiritual cleansing of the Mikvah; it was a ritual required by Jewish law where one was immersed in water to attain purity and cleansing. God has provided His church with a new form of spiritual cleansing through Christ, Ephesians 5:26-27 says, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water of the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (NKJV) As I sat there I could almost feel the warmth of water flowing over me, cleansing me of all that had been covering me like a shroud.