Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Stuff

I know that my real identity and worth are not about what I own or what owns me. Even so, I must admit a real sense of comfort in being surrounded (and if you could see the house right now while we unpack, you'd know how literally I mean surrounded) by my own stuff again. While we are more grateful than words can express to have had places to live while we waited for the sale of a house and the purchase of another, there is nothing like sitting on your own couch or sleeping in your own bed Like most people I know, we have much more stuff than we need. This move, we discarded a lot of things we had been hauling around for years, some which had not been unpacked from the last move nine years ago. Opening a box and discovering books that I'm accustomed to seeing on the shelf or finding mementos from special events down through the years (things that look like junk to some, I know) reminds me of who I am and how I came to be this person.
I'm not altogether sure of where all our stuff is going in this new place. But I'm surely glad to have it with me again. Each piece of it has a story of some sort. I promise not to tell them all. But I am thankful for the stories and for the people behind all that stuff.

Wherever We Are

Psalm 139 has long been a favorite of mine. The assurance this Psalm provides that God knows me, and that God loves me in spite of what God knows is a rare gift. The middle part of the Psalm, the part that talks about never being away from God's presence always makes me thankful. While I never doubt God's presence, I will admit that sometimes I wonder if God really knows (or cares) where I am. The first time I remember having those thoughts was years ago when we lived in Mississippi. At the time that was as far from family, friends, and other familiar things as we had ever lived. I remember walking from the mailbox down a dusty driveway one hot summer day and wondering, does God really know I'm here? As Deanna and I have moved from one temporary home to another over the past several months (for both of which we are extremely grateful), I remember feeling the same way and asking the same question: do you think God really knows where we are?
As some of you know, we have recently moved into a new home of our own (well, most of it belongs to the bank, but you know what I mean). As I dropped one more change of address card in the mail the other day, and ask I dragged in another box to unpack, I remember asking again whether God knows where we are.
Don't misunderstand; I know that God has plenty to keep up without worrying specifically about where Bob is today. As long as there are wars, starving children, and people who have not heard the Gospel, I suspect God has plenty to do without worrying about where I am. Even so, the Psalmist provides considerable comfort in these words: "How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them--they are more than the sand; I come to the end--I am still with you" (vv17-18).
That helps me to reframe my question. It's not so much a matter of whether or not God knows where I am (although I know God does) as it is a matter of my being with God, wherever I roam. I am happy to be settling into a new home. I am happy about the good things happening at Providence Church. And I am happy that I am never away from God's presence. Neither are you. Thanks be to God!