By Brianna Hines
You know that verse we studied last week about our heart being wherever our treasure is (Matthew 6:21)? I got to thinking, where is my heart? What do I treasure that is revealing my true heart devotion? And then I had an even more terrifying thought: If a complete stranger were to sort through my house today, what would they notice? What would they see that I really treasure?
If you sorted through my house today, you would notice that our family values reading. We have books in every room and new ones that arrive in the mail regularly. Most of them are not too dusty either because we are actually enjoying them, and you would find them lying about the house on pretty much every surface. Reading is something my whole family treasures.
This first example I really wouldn’t mind people noticing about my house. But as I kept thinking, I discovered another, much less attractive one. I will see if you can guess what it is after I describe a few things to you.
My pantry has a lot of canned food, and also large quantities of shelf stable foods like rice, tuna, noodles, and flour. You might say, “Oh Brianna, you have a big family; you probably just cook a lot!” There is a difference between cooking a lot and having 10 jars of nut butters and three full-sized bags of flour when I only bake about once a month.
Next clue: three nondescript buckets in my garage filled with freeze dried food that has an expiration date 30 years from now! All of the buckets are fully sealed, of course, in case of mass flooding. How about the five dozen AA batteries in the cupboard or the five click-lighters, or the water tight container of matches, boxes of candles, or wads of cash that I hide in various places around the house. How about those?
You say, “Brianna, you are just being prudent. There is nothing wrong with being prepared in case of an emergency.” To that I reply, “Is keeping TWO neck braces in the back of the medicine cabinet prudence?” Is it still just prudence when my husband suggested getting rid of them because we clearly hadn’t been using them, and I said, “We can’t get rid of these! What if there was some kind of apocalyptic event and we lost all access to healthcare and someone in our family got a neck injury! We are really going to need these!” to which he looked at me like I was a crazy person and then pointed out, “Weeeeell, you probably don’t need both of them though.” And I yelled, “But what if TWO of us got neck injuries!”
If you have guessed by now that I have issues trusting God to provide what I need in an emergency, you would be dead on. I grew up poor, in a house that was all but falling apart, with parents who were both self-employed and had extremely unpredictable incomes. I never really knew month to month if we were going to be okay, and I learned early on never to ask them to buy me anything. I didn’t want to add to their stress load. If I needed something, it was my job to figure out how to get it or to earn the money to buy it myself, and that included new school clothes.
I don’t think I ever really outgrew that mindset. The current state of my house proves that. I am still very early in the process of learning to trust God to provide for my needs. Sure, I know He is good and His word says He will give me everything I need, but I don’t want to add to His stress load. If I can plan ahead, I can avoid bothering Him with any needs of mine and be sure that they get met, too. None of this “trusting” business. I treasure security.
You might think now that I have realized this and confessed it to all of you I am going to chuck the freeze dried food and extra batteries and just resolve to trust God in the future. It’s not that simple though. Forcing ourselves to white-knuckle outward displays of simplicity without the heart change will only lead to bondage.
If I were to reluctantly force myself to get rid of all those things before I was ready, I would end up resentful and more anxious than I was before. No. I can only change as the Lord works, and often that work happens much more slowly than we would like.
However, when I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I can act in obedience and trust. For example, I have been getting pretty anxious about grocery prices. As someone that wants to be prepared in case of an emergency, you can imagine my alarm when I see we are going through our entire grocery budget closer and closer to the first of the month. Each item I place in the cart feels like a big decision. I dread grocery shopping to the point that I have been going much longer between trips. I try not to eat as much, so what’s in the fridge will last longer. I refrain from cooking new meals until we have finished the leftovers of previous ones. I am feeling very insecure.
Through all of this, though, God has been teaching me that He will provide. My kids have started eating foods they didn’t really like before —foods that are simpler and much less expensive like oatmeal and potatoes. I have had people offer me canned food whenever I want to take some. It might sound strange, but I have a jar of olive oil that has lasted three times as long as usual. Each time I pour some into a pan, I think of the widow Zarephath and God’s ability to keep my oil jar full if we needed it. In fact, it feels like He is doing it now.
When I look in the pantry and see bare shelves, I don’t feel panicked anymore. Instead, a sense of relief floods in that even when it seems like we don’t have a lot of food, we are able to make delicious meals and enjoy them as a family. Our life is just as rich without the luxury foods. In fact, having less food has made me more grateful for the food we do enjoy. I make more of an effort to sit down at the dining table for meals. I have been cooking from scratch more and looking up new recipes that my thrifty grandmother would be proud of. I am learning to treasure the security I receive from my Heavenly Father, and one day I might be brave enough to give away my freeze dried food. Until then, I am taking this simplicity journey one step at a time as the Spirit leads.
What about you? What do you treasure? The things we own, the things we acquire, and the things we spend our money on say a lot about where our hearts are at. That is why Jesus cut straight to the heart of things and asked us where our treasure is. We need to answer that question, really answer it, because the allegiance of our hearts is at stake. We will only have the life that God wants for us when our only treasure is Him and only Him.
Trust me. I know how painful it is to face our demons, our treasures. I face them every time I open my pantry. But we must release them. We must release our treasures, our false securities, our cleverly disguised comfort idols. It is scary. It is hard. Frankly, it’s a lot of work! But every time I have opened my hands and released something to God, I have been rewarded with a breath of freedom. I don’t have to serve that other master. I can serve my Heavenly Master as He calls me toward deeper and deeper trust and satisfaction and security in Him alone. The real treasure is God, and we need to dig for Him. He is buried beneath all of the false treasures we have stacked on top of Him in a giant heap. But He is patient. He will wait for you to throw them aside as you dig. Just keep digging. He’s not going anywhere.
For more on UFC Women’s Simplicity series, click here.