Almost two years ago now, my husband and I packed in two large duffel bags to move to China. (When I arrived in the Shanghai airport, someone accidentally mistook my bag for his, and I thought I might actually never get that one bag back, but that’s another story!)
Before we left the US of A, I sorted through an abundance of clothes, much of which I never wore, and passed them onto friends and shelters. While I admit there was an initial pang of giving up some nice, only slightly-worn things, the overall effect was liberating. Now in China, my husband I, like most Chinese, have only a few clothes that hang in our closets, and we’re pretty satisfied with that.
However, we do watch a fair bit of American tv, and we especially love home improvement shows. And I’m noticing that the trend in America, true to form, is not this paring down of superfluous items to the bare necessities, but the tendency to build bigger boxes, houses, closets, and bathrooms to house all our stuff. Perhaps I’m especially sensitive to it, because it tends to be women on these shows who determine that their closet needs to get bigger to hold all their clothes rather than the other way around.
This morning when I was reading through Luke, I stumbled on the parable of the rich fool. Jesus talks of a man whose land produces abundantly, so he schemes to pull down his barns and build larger ones, where he can store his grain and goods. The man says to himself,
‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God. (Luke 12:13-21)
So as my husband and I prepare to go back to our home in the United States, a land of worldly riches and abundance, I’m reminded of that singular bag I packed a few years ago, the simplicity of my Chinese friends’ lives here in China, and this warning not to store up treasures for oneself but toward God.
I often hear people say that our calendars or our checkbooks are a good indication of our priorities in life…well, how about our closets?