Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I have to confess there are some days when feel like more of an overcomer than others. I have been clean and sober since 1978…so, the things that test me these days are not drugs and alcohol. I have enjoyed many good years of sobriety and appreciate the quality of life I have without them.
My challenges these days are trying to grasp what is really important at this time of my life. Every stage of our existence is unique. We can always bring wisdom from the past along from one stage to the next…but other than that, a lot of things just don’t fit. Every stage of life involves acquisition and retirement.
Most people think of retirement as something you do when you get old enough. They assume it’s when you settle back and live on whatever you’ve managed to put away along with what you get from the government. But truthfully, some retirement happens each time we step from one stage of life to another.
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When you were small, your parents did a lot of your ‘retirement’ for you. When you were too old to play with certain toys, they had to make the decision about what would be put away in case more children came along, or what should be retired. Some things were shared with friends who had a child just a little younger than you were—or they might have been sentimentally tucked away…just because.
A lot of stuff comes along with childhood, so there was a lot of material ‘retiring’ to do during those years, as you quickly passed through shoes, clothes, storybooks, and other paraphernalia. But in addition to ‘stuff’, you also retired some of your behavior—and acquired some new.
That stage of your life was a time when you were constantly learning. You acquired new knowledge and understanding every single day.
During the teenage years, things might have gone a little crazy. A lot of things your parents thought you should have, might have gotten thrown out or hidden when your parents weren’t looking—and some things your parents wished you would get rid of, you simply wouldn’t part with. At that age, and all ages, people are trying to figure out who they are—so some things are just a mystery all the way around.
When you moved away from home and started living on your own, another process took place. You had to make more decisions on what was relevant and what was not. You wanted to be thought of as an adult and have your independence, yet there were some things you still weren’t ready to let go of that probably went along with you when you made the move.
Right now, you might still have some things that have been carted with you from one residence to the next that you rarely look at and you could actually live without, yet you feel an attachment to—or a responsibility to hold on to…a little longer.
I admire missionaries who have been able to part with everything to follow a long-term life’s calling to a foreign country. Could you do that? I know I would, if I had to—and so would you.
Some missionaries probably don’t let go of everything, but I’m sure many do. It probably is better for them to get rid of all of their material ties, if they truly plan to stay on the mission field permanently or indefinitely. That way, they wouldn’t be as tempted to just go back, if things got rough.
If someone was starting out fresh as a missionary in a foreign country with nothing, they would have to acquire the things they needed. Eventually, when they had ‘new stuff’, and acquired new relationships and understanding, they might feel like where they were, was more like ‘home’.
What is it about ‘stuff’ that makes us feel at home? And how do we make the decision what stuff is still relevant when we get older? I’ve never been very good at making those kinds of decisions, so that is my battle to overcome, at the moment. Truthfully, I’ve had more of an addiction to ‘stuff’ than I ever had to drugs and alcohol.
Declaration: I will find new strength by keeping my eyes on freedom. I will find encouragement in the example of brave people who have selflessly laid down everything in order to follow the call of God.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.