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David Nelson: Keeping up with our stuff


Have you ever taken stock of how much stuff you have? We have it everywhere; in our closets, in our garages, and in our storage spaces. It’s quite an industry to keep up with all of our things. Think of all the containers that are available.

The late George Carlin, a unique “stand-up” comedian, had a routine in which he talked on and on about the stuff that is so much a part of who we are and what we do. His cutting line was to tell others “don’t touch that, it’s my stuff.” So it follows that we willingly put our possessions and things in safe places to protect what we claim is ours.

Any one who has ever moved, knows the big task of finding room for all of our things. So thank goodness there is a solution. We can rent a storage unit or two to fit our needs whether great or small. These commercial facilities seem to be close by.

Now our community is about to have a new storage product. It will be the perfect answer. The former Walmart facility that later became Magic Mart, is presently being groomed to have climate controlled storage closets, rooms, and bins to fit all of our needs. This is an ingenious answer to the encroachment of the enemies of all of our stuff. And it will be big and convenient too.

Lord forbid, we don’t just need spaces, we need the atmosphere to be conducive to keeping out dampness, and mold as well as thieves. It is no picnic to check on our locked-up stuff only to find it has been kept to be ruined by the elements of humidity, temperature, and mold. How disconcerting to try to protect something only to lose it.

Maybe that’s indicative of life itself—we want to keep, preserve, and protect what we claim to be ours. The ancient Egyptian society built pyramids in which to store the mummified bodies of their kings. These monoliths were built to withstand time. I’d say these were the first examples of ultimate storage facilities.

My question is “why do we always try to preserve and protect things?” Rather than keeping stuff, it seems to me that we need to find ways to share things and even give them away. All of our stuff in various locations may need to find places where it can be used. Our very existence is not to simply accumulate but to use, enjoy, share, and serve. Things in storage only sit and remain. There is no useful purpose—they are simply locked up.

Thank goodness, we have a God who came to us to teach us to share, give, love, and help those in need. When we think we exist only to collect, store, and keep, we have lost the whole meaning of why we have been created. What we have is not who we are.

Simply accumulating stuff has no virtue. Maybe we all need to rethink why we focus so much on keeping rather than using. Our stuff won’t save us. Only our Lord’s grace and motivation has the will and the power to do that, and it needs to be shared not stored.

Dr. David P. Nelson is a retired Lutheran pastor.

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