Not Ours for Keeps–giving up the things we love

I love our little home.

It’s clean and bright with a magnificent WINDOW to let in the view. It’s well-built, tastefully finished, not rustic or allergy inducing.  There are no spiders, ants or bugs.  It is not overrun with a lifetime of collected knick-knacks.  It’s just right for the two of us at this stage of life, our first nest of our own since selling our family home and moving away from the coast.

I have a nook in which to write, enough shelves for enough books (the rest are in boxes somewhere), a handy way to play good music without the overhead of huge speakers and sound systems, and even a gas fireplace for instant warmth (no more wrestling with logs and sweeping up their remains).

Our little home is space-efficient, storage savvy, and easy to keep clean…and oh, the kitchen, it is all of the above, and the best of places to recreate, even if there are fewer mouths to savor the results.

Yes, this is a great little home.  Only, it’s not our own.  It’s one we could never afford to own.  Our year’s contract is just up and it’s being sold.  Maybe the new owners will want us to stay, and maybe not.  So I’m coming to terms with the reality that even good and perfect gifts, such as this home has been to us this first year in a new place, are not ours for keeps.  We have them for a season and we relinquish them to the Giver of all good things.  Have I been spoiled by this lavish provision? Can I move on in grateful trust?  And I wonder, is it wise to love a home?

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…* comes to mind. I have puzzled over this verse before.  I thought of it again driving into town for an appointment on a perfect Kodak-moment morning.  An unexpected spring snowfall had rendered the world a wonderland–freshly frosted landscape rising to towering snow-clad mountain majesties.  Exquisite!   Is it OK to love this view?  God’s creation is after all magnetically beautiful.  He intended it to be this way.  (One has only to note the cost of real estate in this mountain valley to know it!)  Believer and unbeliever alike are drawn in awe to these surroundings.  They reveal something of the might and greatness of the God for whom we exist.  When what He has created turns my heart in grateful praise to Him it has begun to accomplish its holy design.   If it only makes me pine to possess such a view, my love of the view has gone awry.

But it is not the beauty of God’s created world that John is referring to when he urges believers to “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you…”  He describes instead a worldly system of thinking that rivals love for God. “For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions.  These are not from the Father.  They are from this evil world.”*  

The lust to have and to hold all that we see as beautiful, simply for our own gratification and our own glory, is not God’s intent for us.  He is the rightful owner of every good thing, the Landowner of this great vineyard where we are placed to live and work.  We are stewards, cultivating what is ‘at hand’ for His Kingdom’s sake.  Yes, he provides all good things for our enjoyment but we are not meant to stake a claim to them as our own, to set our hearts on them as though they were forever.  Our hearts belong to God.  His will for us is our delight.  Stuff can get in the way.  It is not meant to.  As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty (what comes of taking pride in our possessions) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches (they are not guaranteed to last; there’s no real security here!), but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.*

So, what does this have to do with my love for my home here in this awesome spot?  Maybe nothing.  Perhaps it depends how I view it?

It has been God’s gift for a season.  Will I continue to live in it with gratitude, enjoying it, sharing it,  making use of it for as long as He wishes?  And then will I let it go without regret?  For if I  think I MUST keep it at all costs my mind will soon start playing Eve’s theme–Hmm… it appears God may not have my best interests at heart.  Doesn’t He see how beautiful this is; it’s surely what I most need, why does He prevent me from having it? And so ‘stuff’, whether forbidden fruit or a sweet suite, can drive a wedge between my heart and God’s.  No wonder John warns us not to love things.  Loving things empowers them to lure my heart away from its first Love, the love that alone satisfies in the deepest way.

In another place and time we had a pastor named John who continually put before us the picture of an open hand as the only way to enjoy to the full God’s blessings.  They must always be held in an open hand,  he said, with gratitude but not fierce clinging.  My Lord has every right to give or take away, for my greatest good and His greatest glory.  Job knew this well and responded: Blessed be the name of the LORD.*

Moses too exemplified it.  He let go his luxurious lifestyle and privileged position in the household of Pharaoh to fulfill God’s purposes for his life, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.*  Pursuing God’s purposes for his life, even if it meant a nomadic homeless existence with a quarrelsome bunch of people, held promise of a far greater pleasure than all the riches of Egypt could provide.  God’s pleasure is what mattered most to him.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.*

There is a potential hazard in having good things.  We may begin to think the thing is what we most need,  when all we truly need is God and what He chooses to provide, for this world is fading away, along with everything it craves*  but the one who does God’s will lives on forever.  A life committed to wanting God above all else will spare us of the payload of nasty consequences that inevitably accompany our best wrought plans for our own good.

Moses had it right:  Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.*  And I want to get it right too! 

Nothing in the here and now is worth setting my heart on.  It will not last.  Whether for a year of for a decade or for a lifetime any home here is temporary.  My greatest good and God’s greatest glory is accomplished when I submit my desires to His.  Grateful for what He gives, using it for His glory, and content when He takes it away or moves me on to something yet unseen…

Enjoying what God provides without insisting on possessing it, without allowing it to become my master, with an open hand and a grateful heart, is the best kind of pleasure there is in this life.  This is what I want.  So I am resolved:

  • to let my experience of this year in this place remain untainted by covetousness or anxiety.  It has been a good year.  I have loved, yes loved, living here.  It has been a lavish provision,  a testimony to a great and loving God. [see here and here for more of the story] It need not ‘spoil’ me for whatever comes next.
  • to trust God with the desires of my heart, knowing He will shape them to be His desires in His perfect time.  He will continue to abundantly provide for us, here or elsewhere, for all our todays right into eternity.
  • because my confidence is in God and not the real estate market, there is no less cause for peace, for joy, for thanksgiving on the cusp of losing our home than there was in the middle of the one-year contract.  Our hope is not in contracts but in Him.
  • my contentment is not based in ‘having it all’ or living in a luxurious suite, but in being where God has plunked us.  Today.  Always.  My hopes are set in God.


Therefore do not worry, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.

Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

I Tim.6:17 ESV;  Job 1:21 KJV;  Heb.11:25 ESV; Heb.11:26 NLT; I Jn.2:15 NLT; Ps. 90:1-2 NKJV; Mt. 6:31-34 NKJV; Ps.37:4 ESV; Ps.113:2 KJV

Have you loved and lost and had to trust God for the yet-to-be?  I would love to hear your story.  Just click the comment link below to share your thoughts.

TODAY #5–Why are you being so kind to me?

Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly.  “Why are you being so kind to me?” she asked.  “I am only a foreigner.”—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.—For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.—What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.—Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the foe.

Ruth 2:10 NLT; Rom.5:8 ESV; II Cor.5:19 NLT; Ps.116:12,13 KJV; Ps.107:1,2 ESV

I heard Ruth’s words in a new light this morning, a beautiful picture of God’s acceptance of me because of Christ.  Just as Ruth had come as a stranger to Israel to take refuge in the God of Naomi, just as she found a redeemer in the formerly unknown landholder, Boaz,  so I have been accepted in the Beloved.  I am brought into the family of God through no merit of my own and accorded His tender care.  What can I say but ‘Thank-you, I am so glad to belong to You, Lord.’ –LS

TODAY #4–Living Loved

This post is one of a feature I am calling Words for TODAY. Here I bring my own collected words from Scripture, ones that have spoken to my heart TODAY, in hopes that as you consider them you too will find encouragement and renewed trust in our living, speaking God! –LS

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.–Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’

Then a poor widow…dropped in two pennies...’this poor widow has given more than all the others have given…she has given everything she has’–If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.–”Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life.–In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.–So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus…And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.–We love because he first loved us.

Jn.17:3ESV; I Jn.4:8ESV; Mar 12:30 NLT; Mark 12:42,44 NLT;  I Cor.13:3 ESV; Mark 12:31 NLT;Deut.30:19,20 ESV; I Jn.5:3 NIV; Ps.119;5,6 NLT; Rom.8:1,38 NLT; I Jn.4:19


It would seem that Life, the real kind, the eternal kind,  consists in loving God with all my life’s energies and earnings, my heart open gladly to His bidding.  It’s a paradox: Life doesn’t begin until I give mine away out of love.  But I won’t love well till I know I am loved well; only then will it spill over to others.  And then it will be clear I have begun to know God.  

In commanding us to love Him with all we are and have God is showing us the way to life as He intended it to be, a life of living loved.  Perhaps, as the saying goes, it is love that makes the world go round.  It all starts with God’s love:

God is love.  To know Him is to love Him….To love Him is to love my neighbor….To love my neighbor is to know the life of God at work in me, for God is love. 

May He grant us the power to believe the measureless dimensions of His love for us that we might live forever loved and loving. 


TODAY #3–Winter cannot win!

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.– Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.–For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.–For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.–And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.–Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven!

Phil.1:6; Phil.2:12,13; Romans 8:19; Mal.4:2; Gal.5:5; I Jn.3:3; I Cor.15:49
English Standard Version

Tromping through snow and slush, slipping, sometimes falling, we make our way through a fallen world to the Eternal City.  Created in Christ Jesus for good things, yet bearing in our bodies remnants of the old, we are liable to lapse into sin and fall away from the living God.  But His indomitable Spirit within woos and works to fit us for glory.  Our new nature is like a bulb that’s been planted in fall.  The sun will shine, the bloom will spring forth.  Because Christ Himself has risen conquering death, winter cannot win! –LS

Christ is Risen!

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame…

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

–Matt Maher