We have a problem with stuff. We need look no further than the explosive growth of the storage industry to see this clearly. One in eleven people in America spend an average of a little over $90 a month to store things they don’t use regularly. Now, these facilities can be incredibly useful. Many younger people choose to live in cities in smaller apartments than their parents, while other people retire, downsize, and need to park their belongings while they figure out what’s next. All that said, survey results of the people renting these units point to some surprises:
But what’s interesting is that 65 percent of them already have a garage at home, and 33 percent have basements. Seemingly, it’s more about having too many possessions instead of not having enough space. What often starts as a temporary solution eventually turns into a long-term arrangement that can stretch for years. Perhaps this ‘lock-and-leave’ culture in the U.S. is the crux of the steady growth enjoyed by the self-storage industry.
In the passage from Luke’s gospel at the bottom of this message, we see someone who looks a lot like us. He’s wealthy; he succeeded at what he set out to do. He needed someplace to keep the overflow. In his planning, the word “my” repeats again and again. “My” barns, “my” grain, “my” goods… even “my” soul. There is a sense that he (and we) believe we can purchase our security and enjoy it only when we have more than we could ever need, and then backups in the unlikely event something goes wrong. Yet God is not pleased and reminds this wealthy man and all of us hearing this story again that an attitude of generosity means more than all the treasures of this world.
The question I believe we are being confronted with in the scripture and in the material evidence of our world is this: what am I hoarding for a rainy day which may never come? How might these things – material objects, money, food, etc. bless someone else today? As we move toward a deeper discipleship and a more transformative faith practice day by day, how can our own relationship to material goods be redeemed?
Grace and Peace,
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 toward God.”
Luke 12:16-21 (NRSV)