Atlanta Flood 2009, The Day The Cleaning Began

1 of 3 dumpsters for 7 houses by Eric Ryan Jones
1 of 3 dumpsters for 7 houses by Eric Ryan Jones

The flood came on Monday. The water started to recede on Tuesday. Damage was assessed and dreams were crushed on Wednesday.

Thursday was the day the cleaning began.

Large dumpsters like you see at a construction site are starting to line the street and fill driveways. They are being filled with photo albums, couches, love seats, picture frames, kids dolls and toys. They are being filled with memories, hopes, dreams and history.

This is not what these dumpsters were meant for.

I’ll admit I’m all over the place on this topic. Part of me wants to talk about all the lost stuff and the other half of me wants to talk about how we don’t need all this stuff. Jesus tells a rich man he encounters in Matthew 19:21

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell you possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

When I read the above verse, the word “perfect” smacked me in the face. Like every other time God talks to me I don’t hear him right away. So I decided to jump on and search for “perfect”. Only two pages of results came back so I guess God didn’t want me to spend a lot of time on this!

Three verses stuck out right away.

Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

2 Samuel 22:33 – It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

Can I just say WOW. Now you might read these and they won’t “speak” to you, that’s OK they spoke to me and now it really is all about me. So what am I “hearing”, glad you asked.

I am supposed to be perfect, but I know I will never be perfect so I must strive for that perfection as best as I can. It is only through striving towards this perfection that I can battle my fears and live my live fully for God. It is then, through God, where I will receive the strength I need in order to accomplish this pursuit of perfection and as long as I allow him to do this, God will make my way perfect.

So does this mean I have to sell all my possessions? No, Jesus used this example to the rich man because he knew the man valued his possessions above all things. Now this alone can be convicting enough to look around your place and think “do I really need this or that“. I’ve done it and come up with a list of stuff I don’t need but I still held on to it, just in case. By holding onto this stuff I was holding myself back from striving for perfection. Sure it was in my basement, I wasn’t hording it like gold etc but I wasn’t doing anything with it either.

I was afraid to let it go.

Since I was afraid I of course was not going to move forward. I wanted to sell it and make some of my initial cost back, which is fine but my attempts to sell it failed. So I still held onto it thinking someday I’ll sell it.

Someday came in the form of a flood.

As I cleaned my basement I reflected on every single item. I thought things like:

“Some kid out there could have really enjoyed this stuffed toy”
“My kid would have enjoyed these GI Joe’s”
“Someone would have gotten a lot of use out of this”

All these great thoughts, all acts of love but I never acted on them! I never gave the stuffed animals away and now they are ruined. I have no idea if I’ll have kids let alone boys who would enjoy GI Joe’s from 20 years ago! And yes someone probably would have got a lot of use out of the stuff I was just storing, but now the only thing it is useful for is filling in a garbage dump.

How sad that I let all this stuff go to waste. How sad that I was too afraid to act.

So now I look around and look at the stuff in my house and I think. “Do I need this?” Do I use this? Can someone else get more use out of it then me?

I think it’s that last question which is the most important because we can all answer yes to the first to. But if we can answer yes to the last one then maybe we should really evaluate why we have it.

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