Monday, August 18, 2014

a trip to the storage room

This weekend we spent some time helping clean out our family storage unit.

We had a lifetime of random objects - a dresser, a bed frame, a desk, clothes, old toys, VHS tapes, and so much more - efficiently crammed in the metal storage unit. We'd stacked and squeezed things in so well it was hard to tell how much there was... until we got it out, and you could barely get through the corridor of units for all of our stuff. Don't even bother trying to get into one of the units around us; those were totally blocked. A hallway filled with boxes on boxes of things we needed so badly that we'd pay rent every month to keep them, things we needed so badly we could go almost a decade without using them or even seeing them. (And of course our homes are full of things too.)
How did we get all of this stuff?

But it's not just us. The sterile, while halls of this climate controlled storage warehouse are so narrow it's hard to tell just how big the place is. The units are all numbered, though: I found number 327, so there are at least that many. In this place. There are other storage facilities around town. And other towns. And other states.
Just how much stuff do we have?

Sometimes it's fun to look through everything, maybe find some hidden treasures, definitely take a walk or two down memory lane. And sometimes it's just sad, remembering buying this or that, so important at the time, now in the pile for Goodwill. What a waste. If I could only do some things over - we could have ended up with a smaller storage unit.

A few quick facts from the Self Storage Association:

  • There are over 50,000 self storage facilities in the United States.
  • By comparison, there are over 3,000 in Canada and over 1,000 in Australia.
  • Close to 11 million US households rent a self storage unit.
  • There is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman, and child in the nation.
Of course there are times in life when you might really need a storage unit. Military personnel serving overseas, or a missionary; someone moving to go back to college; your house is having major renovations, and you have to clear out; you name it. 

But we sure do have a lot of stuff. So much that we have to build bigger barns to hold it all.
You know that story? It's one of Jesus':
Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 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 towards God.’ (Luke 12:16-21)

We know we store up some treasures for ourselves, but what about being rich towards God? How are we doing on that front?

Jesus prefaced the parable with another important word: "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (12:15). Sometimes, at the rate we go (read: acquire), you'd think life must consist in the abundance of the things we possess. Why else would we race to own more and better stuff? 
... Why do we? 
Maybe we need to be on our guard.

Of course, sometimes you might really need a storage unit.

But what about all of the stuff we put in it?


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