THE BLESSEDNESS OF POSSESSING NOTHING
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.
This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant.
They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
Upon our return from Ghana, I stood in our bedroom unpacking from our trip and finding myself becoming increasingly frustrated at the number of clothes that I had! My wardrobe and drawers were full of clothes, and yet so was my suitcase!
Mid unpacking, I came to an abrupt halt and sat down on my bed, exasperated and feeling a little annoyed at myself for accumulating so many things. I also felt extremely claustrophobic and swamped! How on earth had I gotten to a stage of having too many things? You may be able to relate.
I recently read the above paragraph in A.W Tozer’s book Pursuit of God in chapter 2 (The blessedness of possessing nothing) and it was so powerful.
These words haven’t left me.
They can be found resonating within my own heart because they are words sent straight to disturb the tough fibrous roots within its very chambers.
The roots of our hearts have grown into things -such a timely statement for the times that we are
Have you noticed that our lives are just so full of stuff? It is so easy to have a lot because there is an abundance of things accessible to us. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to pick up items here and there until one day we marvel at the fact that we have too many shoes, too many clothes, and too many perfumes!
Even if we don’t have a lot of things, we can and do easily fall into the trap of living in a state of constant pining after material things because marketing and advertising sell the idea that our lives will be much more meaningful with them.
The issue of materialism can be a constant battle and struggle for many, as we seek to find an appropriate balance between desiring and acquiring nice things, (without coveting them), and spending impulsively on things that we don’t need and later regret. I don’t believe that the problem lies with clothing and wanting to look beautiful and presentable.
This desire is a good thing.
A pleasant and honourable thing in fact, for a woman to take care of her physical body and carry herself with class and modesty when it comes to clothing (1 Timothy 2:9).
And yet, as I sat in the middle of my own pile of clothes, I couldn’t ignore the invasive questions creeping upon me… “If I didn’t have all of these items, would anything change? Where do I draw my strength from? What are the things that in reality I am rooted in?”
I tell you. This one had me looking at the floor with a guilty-blank face because never would I have imagined that unpacking clothes would turn into an internal teaching session but the Holy Spirit was highlighting something deep within me that I just couldn’t ignore.
In the world that we live in, we are led to falsely believe that we are blessed when we have more things, because material items are evidence of wealth, doing well and moving onward and upward in society; and yet in that moment, as I looked around me, that wasn’t the first thought that came to mind.
Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of clutter.
And a strange but very present emptiness at what was lying before and all around me.
I thought of the spiritual dimension; and the fact that it really is possible for us to choke the work of God within our lives when we are insistent upon digging our spiritual and emotional roots down into the temporary things of this world instead of in Him the all-sufficient One.
What have we dug our identities, worth, value, and significance into? Where does our affection lie? (Col 2:6-7)
There is such a preoccupation with things in this world, and material possessions and physical comfort have become so important to us. We dare not suggest another less than lifestyle.
I thought about the place in my own heart that I have reserved just for material possessions and it made me feel uncomfortable.
Because I’ve been there, and in some moments am still there, spending hours trying to figure out my “sense of style” on Pinterest, fashion blogs and YouTube and then attempting to find all the items that will help me achieve my perfect look.
Things have become so necessary to us, and while they do have their place, the outward has become so important to us.
Tozer in this chapter of his book touched on something profoundly deep. The blessedness of possessing nothing.
The blessedness of a Christian whose heart has loosened, and even let go of its tight grip on worldly things.
There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is such a harmful destructive habit that comes so naturally to us all.
The Christian woman who is spiritually alive enough to know herself even slightly will recognise the symptoms of this habit and will grieve to find them within her own heart.
Seeking to tear down all the altars she has built up, she may begin to seek afresh the blessing that is found in nothing but a single heart set towards God and Him being enthroned there.
In that moment in my room, I was reminded afresh that I am created for God, and not for things. Our problem often lies in the fact that it doesn’t always feel enough, and so we have to add things on to it and then they end up crowding Him out. We pick this and pick that along the way, and then wake up one day to find that our hearts are weighed down with many things – except for God.
I just want to encourage you with the story of Job (book of Job) and Abraham (Genesis 22:1-19). Both went through tests which required them to give up all that belonged to them. They were both called to great sacrifice, and they proved to God that their hearts possessed nothing on this earth.
Until our hearts are quietened, uncluttered and emptied of all the things we have accumulated, God can’t be at the centre. So perhaps, its time for a spring clean, and not just for today, but for every day.
May we be women who are willing to commit our lifetimes to possessing nothing on this earth, in order to cling to Jesus who is all things in One.
It isn’t promised to be easy, but worth it.
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