I love the scene in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE where the Beavers are forced to flee from the White Witch. While the others hurriedly don coats and boots, Mrs. Beaver scuttles about the den packing provisions for the journey: sugar, tea, matches, two or three loaves of bread, a ham, and a dozen clean handkerchiefs. She’d have toted her sewing machine, as well, had Mr. Beaver not convinced her the extra weight would prove too burdensome. She grieves over leaving it behind as her frantic companions rush her out the door with only minutes to spare.
I’ve always felt for Mrs. Beaver. I can sympathize with her desire to be well-prepared, for I share the same mindset. I know that dire circumstances demand a drastically different approach to material possessions — the sewing machine that is a blessing at home would be a curse on the road, especially if it causes the company to be captured — but I’m still sad to see her leave it behind, never mind that she receives a nicer, newer sewing machine later in the book.
When I think of my sisters in Alabama whose homes were recently ransacked by tornados, or I remember my sisters in Japan who lost not only property and possessions but also loved ones in the tsunami, I am ashamed to be crying over the fact that our new kitchen won’t hold a table big enough for my whole family to sit together at mealtimes. Those women were not afforded the luxury of slowly sifting through their belongings and deciding what to keep and what to toss. They know experientially that “Life is more than food and the body more than clothes.” (Luke 12:23)
I have always prayed that God would teach me life’s lessons in the gentlest way possible. He has been faithful to honor that request once again, and I am grateful He has allowed me this long goodbye. It can still be a little painful, but in a different way, like pulling a Band-Aid off hair by hair instead of ripping it loose in one swift stroke…. No, that analagy trivializes the torment others have endured. Say instead it’s like skinning a knee as opposed to severing a limb.
Whether I’m motivated by materialism, or sentimentality, or my “waste not, want not” upbringing, the fact remains that I’ve become far too attached to my stuff. What exasperates my husband, I think, is the fact that it’s not the nicest things we own that I’m the most attached to. It’s the beat-up buffet with only three good legs that has followed us from our first apartment, representative of the best we could afford for many years. It’s my grandma’s rusty glider, where I sat beside her shelling peas as a kid and rocked colicky babies to sleep as an adult. It’s the uneven panels of stained glass the children helped me solder together for our bathroom windows. It’s the doorjamb with eight years of pencil lines marking my children’s growth progress.
At any rate, I am now in the process of downsizing. My son Benjamin found the house we’re moving into, but God picked it. We can tell He went before us and smoothed the way, because His fingerprints are all over the place. Just the fact that our landlord agreed to rent to a family with twelve children is a small miracle in itself!
With every load we carry over, that place is looking more and more (and this one less and less) like home. It is a beautiful house with a great floor plan and will accommodate a surprising number of the things I was reluctant to leave behind, often in spaces that seem tailor made for them. Beds, curtains, piano, rugs — time and again, they’ve fit where we’ve needed them to go without an inch to spare. I may not be able to squeeze my ten-foot table into my new breakfast nook, but oddly enough, there’s a ten-foot cubby in the garage that seems to serve no other purpose but to temporarily house that table as a makeshift workbench.
So here again, God is leading us by baby steps. If there is a mud hut in our future — and there may be — He is not asking us to move there today. We’ve signed a fourteen-month lease on our new home, which will allow our older boys to finish up at UT Tyler while we sort out our next step. We honestly don’t know what that next step may be, but we know that God knows, and that He is good and merciful and sovereign. And shouldn’t that be enough?