August 11, 2014

The Mess of Materialism

As I was watching yet another episode of House Hunters Renovation, I looked at the gorgeous kitchens that were transformed in these homes. Cooking and baking has always been a passion of mine, so I could honestly care less what the rest of the house looks like, but I am drawn to kitchens. In a big way. As I found myself going "ooohh" and "aaahh" over the granite, the marble floors, the cherry cabinets and stainless steel appliances, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me the word 'gratitude'. It stopped me in my tracks and I immediately went straight to my Bible. Throughout reading scriptures, the spirit reminded me that I've had all of those things and asked me if it made me any more happy or any more equipped to take care of my family than when I don't have those things? The answer was, no. In fact, several years back I had built a brand-new custom home from the ground up. I chose every single detail I wanted in that house and spared no expense. I had the marble floors, I had the cherry wood cabinets, I had the stainless steel appliances, and I had the granite countertops. I even had that vent where you push a button and it comes up out of the countertop, and then when you're done cooking you push the button it and it goes back down into the counter. You name it, all the bells and whistles.

But the voice was right, I live now in a home that would be considered much older and less apt than that gorgeous home that I built. It's been previously lived in, it's been very much loved on, and it is what most people would consider the deeply average. But yet I still have everything my family needs. As a single mom I do struggle, but I can look around and see that no matter what, God is with me and He is providing- because I always have a home for my children, we have safety, we have food for our bellies and clothes for our backs. We have a vehicle to get around in, and by God's Grace, the money in the bank to put gas in it. By no other means does this come to me except through Him. Because on my own I know I am not strong enough to provide all of this. But yet our 'needs' that are being met are more than sufficient, and our 'wants' are things that are provided at times for us still.

I've noticed as I roam around in my home day-by-day, I don't notice that everything is outdated, I don't notice or care that others would think this is a place they may not ever consider living in, because those are usually the individuals that have money, and base a person's merit on worldly things. That almost brings a smile to my face, because it reminds me that I've given up a lot of myself and my selfishness and instead accepted God, His Grace, and developed a heart of gratitude. So I started thinking, if I had these granite countertops again and the beautiful appliances and the perfect floor to glide around on as I baked…would my food taste any better? Would my kids be any happier? Would people love me any more or any less? Would my needs be any more provided for than they already are? The answer to all of these things is, no. You don't have to have a gorgeous kitchen or top-of-the-line and top dollar appliances in order to achieve a beautiful meal for your family and friends. You simply need a loving heart, a giving attitude, and appreciation in your soul.

I have seen some of the meals that women in third world countries cook: barely any utensils, over an open outdoor fire made of sticks, sitting on a dirt floor. And I'm going to tell you something, these dishes could revel any four-star restaurant here in the United States where they had an army of chefs and the highest quality kitchen equipment that money can buy at their disposal. So is the finished product a result of the grandiosity you have to cook it in and how much you have, or is it simply in what you're putting into it? In my opinion, having a beautiful home and meal is not as much about what you're surrounded by as much as it is about what you're making it with: love, a serving heart, the sheer joy of the task. So while we want and wish and envy and ogle over a granite countertop kitchen, stainless steel appliances, Cherrywood cabinets, and marble floors…there are others out there for doing exactly what we do with 10 times less than what we have. And you know what? Their bellies are still full, the food is still delicious, the joy is still found in serving one's friends and family. May we not focus on the 'what we have' and 'what we wish we had'...and 'oh, if only mine could look like that", or 'oh, I would love to have those in my kitchen because my old countertops are stained, they have ring marks from coffee, my fridge doesn't match my stove', etc.

Is your coffee any less delicious? Does your fridge keep the food any less cold or fresh? Does your kitchen have any less loved ones that trample through it? One day I hope all of us as a people become content with what we have, instead of what we see others have, what we see on TV on the home remodeling shows, and what our hearts are driven to desire a higher quality of. May we see the joy in those coffee rings, which probably means mornings spent getting the kids ready or urging off to a job we are blessed to have, a conversation with your spouse, preparing your drink to sit down and enjoy Bible study. And that refrigerator, it may be old and discolored, but think of all the meals you pulled forth from that and made for your family. Think of when you come home and unload all of those groceries and you have a cold and safe place to put those items to nourish your family with food every single day. So many don't have these things, and would be happy with the lowliest and most broken down stoves, countertops, and fridges they could get their hands on.

The mess of materialism has gotten so out of control in today's world. May we regain focus on the things that we need, appreciate the things that we already have, and push our wants away knowing that the Lord has already provided in abundance and that there are millions in this world that would give anything to have those coffee rings on their counters, to have mismatched appliances, and to have chipped up tile on the floor…because it would mean they had appliances to utilize and a kitchen to cook in, instead of an open fire made of sticks, a dirt floor, and handmade makeshift utensils. A serving heart, a heart of gratitude and thankfulness…not an 'I wish' heart, not an 'I want' heart, and not a heart of expectations and demands to be met with higher and higher provisions- without even recognizing the ones the Lord has already bestowed upon us. May we soften our hearts to look at the small as well as the big things, and not want the big things so much anymore. That means more of Him and less of us, and that is a beautiful thing!

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18ESV)

"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 ESV)

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 ESV)
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2 ESV)

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