We don't have cable; we don't watch a lot of television. But when we stay in a hotel or condo, like we were blessed to do so recently, we watch HGTV and cooking channels. Our most recent mini vacation found us captured by a show about tiny houses. I am both drawn to and repelled by the idea of living in a tiny house. After watching a few episodes of people deciding between tiny, tinier or tiniest, I turned to my husband and asked if he could live in a tiny house.
He said yes. Now if we ever truly considered a tinier house than the small house we live in, my books would be right up near the top of the list of the hardest possessions to let go. Tiny houses don't have room for books. My husband says I would have to go to the library, which I do. He doesn't understand; a writer needs her books. I have lived in my books, studied them and marked them just for me. I return to them for encouragement, comfort and to know I am not alone. It would be a great test for me to leave behind my books. Just writing that sentence makes me want to cry, imagining the grief I would experience saying goodbye to these dear friends.
Granted, my attachment to books may be a bit over the top, but we all have something we would find terribly difficult to leave behind. If your house went up in flames, I am sure most of you have considered what you would want to save most of all, after saving your family of course. Besides people and pets, what would you feel lost without? It may seem silly to ponder, but it does challenge one to consider the things we have become attached to in this life.
Considering what would be hard to give up in a downsize or what I would be desperate to save from a fire, makes me wonder what I hold too tightly limiting what God wants to do in and through me. You see when people are getting rid of things and living in tiny houses they want to minimize the time given to maintenance and to be debt free. This is a commendable motive for sacrifice. Whereas leaving behind everything to follow Jesus costs everything; we are forever in debt to Him. And in this case it is a glorious thing. Letting go of the value we place on ourselves and valuing Him above all increases our lives in ways we cannot imagine. What a contrast to how we live in this world!
I appreciate Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Romans 5:1-5:
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (TM)
This new trend of downsizing and squeezing into a tiny, affordable, mobile house is quite the opposite of giving it all up and moving into the grandest space of all: the heart of the Creator of the universe and His perfect will. Do you ever find yourself downsizing God's expectations and desires for you? Do you ever customize your faith to fit in with the life you want to live? I have. I have to ask myself: Am I downsizing and living little as a follower of Jesus because I want to customize what this faith journey should look like? Am I making sure it fits my needs and squeezing myself into a faith too small to amount to anything? I guess I have to challenge myself here because I often want the cozy, comfortable, take it where I want to go, designed by Julie way. Don't you? Sometimes I want God to make this serving Him thing painless and customized to my liking.
There are also times when I live a tiny house walk by trying to squeeze into “Christian” trends or emulating others' heroics. God's grand design for another life becomes a tiny version of the life He has for me. Oh, but He has customized His call and He has given you and me everything we need to follow Him without deviating. And when you and I live the life He has for each of us, the immensely important little we leave behind will be like dust in the wind (even the books) compared to “the more than we can contain” gift He promises in His Word: His Spirit poured into us and overflowing.