In the middle of the night, I found myself semi-conscious, awake enough to recognize the picture in my mind was something to remember. I envisioned the bench inherited from Grandmother and Daddy Joe, the antique dressing bench that set at the foot of my bed, prior to the flood.
Outside this vision, in my real life, my house has flooded twice within, sixteen months. Materially devastating flooding. Flooding that wrecked havoc on my materially obsessive lifestyle. These floods came in through my living room walls, rushed across my house and finally exited my bedroom after rising 3 1/2 feet and dumping river mud over 98% of my obsessions, I mean possessions. The stench and rot left behind, “Wow!”, you would not believe if you’ve never personally witnessed such material devastation.
This bedroom bench in my mind’s eye, tonight, sat alone in my vision and was riddled with piles of my “stuff”- clutter. This picture in my mind was often reality prior to the floods.
Not so many years ago, this bench sat at the foot of Grandmother and Daddy Joe’s bed. In those days, momentarily, it may have had a pair of Daddy Joe’s pants and socks, draped across it as he sat down to dress for the day. I never saw it clutter riddled as it had become in my room.
Our grandparents lived in simpler times. Less was more. Less stuff meant more life, more time to do life. Much of the time, it meant more work, but is that a bad thing?
My question as I review the picture in my mind is how much of the stuff represented on this bench has true value. On this bench, I saw my clothes tossed aside over the past week. There were books, Bibles, journals and a Target bag with more of something I already own a dozen of.
This cluttered bench represents the way I’ve been living my life. Yes, my Bibles, study materials, and journals are in there somewhere, under and mixed in with the clutter. And thank God, I have made some space for that on this bench representing my life. Without that lifeline, I may not be able to see the TRUTH of what is really devastating in the “Flood Season” of my life.
The truth I’ve come to realize this: It is not the material loss that is truly devastating. Rather, the condition of a world so focused on material beauty and possessions in light of eternal things. This is what is truly devastating. These floods, which came through my home twice, took with them 98% of my possessions: a ridiculous amount of stuff (or obsessions with stuff), my belongings. Did all this stuff really belong in my life?
Once these waters receded, what remained? I came home after the flood to find my bedroom bench on the other side of the room. The 20” tall bench, which was in a room that took on 38” of water, floated! Everything else below 38” was flipped over and mud-soaked. Appliances and sofas toppled and tossed. But for some reason, some God-planned reason, the antique dressing bench floated.
Upon discovery of the bench within the flooded bedroom, my eyes searched with hope as they recognized the location of a set of journals dear to my heart. Before we evacuated I had sat my stack of IF journals on the bench (IF- as in; “IF God is real, then how do I want to live my life?”). I had meant to place them in a bag to take with me in the evacuation. In the chaos and haste, they were left behind.
Those “IF (God is real)” journals atop my dressing bench, floated across my bedroom, keeping high and dry the written/spoken words between my God and me. Like the basket which contained Moses and the ark of Noah, my bench protected and preserved the Lord’s anointed. “The gospel and the gift of God working in me.”
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14
My other worldly goods, representing the temporal things of this world, lingered in muddy mounds on the flood-soaked carpet. But my journals loudly proclaiming, “My God IS REAL!”, remain unharmed, not a speck of mud or a drop of water.
This is just one of the many ways God is using these floods to speak to my heart and loose me from attachments to temporal things. He is magnifying the gravity in tying my heartstrings only to things with true value. He is setting me free from earthly things that hinder me from the call of God to go into the world with the gospel. He has given me a gift, of eternal value, and He asks me daily to fan my gift into flame.
“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” 2 Timothy 1:6