What are you collecting?

We are natural collectors of things, we humans. We like to compile and stockpile, to assemble and amass. I collect old books, mainly classics of literature. I love the look of them and the thought of surrounding myself with ancient words of wisdom. My great-aunt once collected cats on her large Texas estate. Rumor has it that she had 96 cats when she finally moved away into a nursing home. Another relative used to collect Santa dolls and Santa toys. Her living room was full of jolly Santas lined around the walls, staring at us every time we visited, all year long. (It wasn’t creepy at all.)

Some of us collect valuable things like art or coins or rare antiques. Some of us collect things we can use, like tools or kitchen utensils. My daughters like to collect stuffed animals, all part of an ever-growing family in their bedroom.

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We may not all be collectors of objects, but we are still collectors. We may collect memories, ideas, plans, relationships, or feelings. We are gatherers, and we often accumulate our things without really thinking about it.

When I stop and look at my collections, I don’t always like the things I hang onto. Clutter, for instance. I have a lot of that. But unseen things too. Anxious thoughts. Useless information. Wasted moments. Negative feelings. Judgments. Burdens.

These things, little and large, accumulate bit by bit, unnoticed, stuffed into the closet of my soul until I can’t close the door anymore and they come spilling out, revealing my habits. Stealing my space.

In this time of loss and uncertainty, it’s easy enough to collect fearful thoughts, all kinds of speculations, gossip, resentments against our leaders or even our loved ones, dark predictions, addictive behaviors. Those things are all on high display in our world right now.

Fear could easily reign at my house, and it often does. But I have a choice of what I will collect. Do I want to collect the things of the world, the “desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life”—the things that are all passing away, the things that pull me from my Father (1 John 2)?

No. I want to be a collector of light. And to know the light, John says, one must abide in the Father. And to abide in the Father is to know the truth that sets us free.

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Abiding in the Father does not give us knowledge of all things. But it does bring us to many things we can know to be true. And these things draw us to the light.

It’s what God asks his children to do over and over in Scripture. When doubt attacks. When the enemy besieges. When the future looks frighteningly dark and out of control. Look at Me, he says. Remember the things you know to be true.

His people create monuments and pile rocks and name wells and wear special garments, all to help them remember. They write it down in song after song, like in Psalm 136, an amazing list of the truths of God:

“To him alone who does great wonders,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who by understanding made the heavens,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who spread out the earth above the waters,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who made the great lights,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

the sun to rule over the day,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule over the night,

for his steadfast love endures forever. . .”

 

On and on it goes, this list of truths, underscored by the greatest truth of all. His steadfast love endures forever.

This collecting of things is a habit, whether or not we are aware of it. But we can be aware. I want to change my habits. I want to collect beautiful things. Things I don’t have to hide or stuff away. Things I can celebrate and put on display.

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Every habit starts as a discipline, something you choose to do over and over until it is no longer a choice, it is just something that happens to you. I’m choosing to look for the beautiful things and to stop, take them up, and remember them, and record what they tell me of the truth of my God.

I am surrounded by truth, if I choose to see it. A living room littered with textbooks, novels, markers, blankets, toys, and pet hair. All the things that make the clutter that drives me crazy, and all the things that one day I will long for. All the things I should be cherishing, the beautiful happy laughing messy life that is this place.

I am starting a new collection. Things I Know to Be True.

  • The sun blazing orange through clouds as it comes up over the mountains this morning. Your mercies are new every morning.
  • My home, all the lovely things in it, the food we will eat today. My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.
  • The birds hopping about on the bird feeder, filling the trees with glorious song. Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
  • Sitting here in the stillness, reading his love song to me and letting it sink deep: The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

It’s amazing how our collections can affect the atmosphere of our dwelling place. People get to know us by the things we gather. And we do gather things, whether we intend to or not. People are either drawn in or repelled by the things we surround ourselves with.

What if we all became collectors of light? Try it. Start your own collection. Name the things: write them down or pile them like rocks. Sing them out. Gather the light around you and just see what God does.

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For more on my new collection, read my earlier post: https://viewfromthevalley.blog/2020/04/02/things-i-know-to-be-true/

One thought on “What are you collecting?

  1. This is beautiful Julie! I’m a collector of Christian books which I mainly give out to people who are going through different circumstances in their life. I also am a collector of coffee mugs from different places I have traveled. I love the footprints in the sand. I hope when this is all over I can take my sister to the beach and tell her who’s carrying her right now even though she knows that. Praise God!

    Like

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