Our family just endured a 2,000 mile move from northwestern Minnesota to southwestern Florida. I know you are not going to shed any tears for us, but if you’ve never tried moving a family of eight across the country, I don’t recommend it. In fact, I don’t recommend moving at all. Ever.
In the months leading up to the move, we set the goal of purging 80% of our stuff. When you have eight loonies in the bin, you have a lot of stuff. Not really nice stuff. Just stuff. Lots of stuff. Given the high cost of moving lots of stuff (really, it’s just crap if I can be honest) from the top of the country to the bottom, we figured this was a good time to undergo a great purge and start over.
First, let me just say that we were unsuccessful. Despite my fast and furious dealings on the local swap and swell (which I have to admit was equal parts maddening and exhilarating), we still ended up moving approximately 60% of our crap total. That actually still sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? We managed to give, throw, or sell 40% of our belongings. Yet, we still had enough crap left over to almost entirely fill a 28-foot semi trailer.
(I know. I know. Accentuate the positive. Forty percent. Yea.)
Now, we’re no novices when it comes to moving. By my count this was our 18th move in 25 years of marriage. I kind of like to think of ourselves as pros, actually. Pros who have been struggling to hit .200 in the minor leagues of moving for a quarter century. But pros nonetheless.
However, there’s a BIG difference between moving across town and moving across the country. In our previous 17 moves, our crap was never in the moving truck for more than a few hours. It got loaded and unloaded the same day, or at least within 24 hours. For this move, our crap was riding in a rig for 12 days making frequent stops along the way to load and unload more cargo in what little remained of our trailer’s space.
I thought I packed stuff really well. I’m a pro. Remember?
Indeed, I did pack stuff really well. For a move across town…
(Perhaps you know where this is going).
Needless to say, the moment I opened our trailer upon it’s arrival I immediately regretted not purging 100% of our crap and completely starting over from zilch. There was nary a single item that was not at least somewhat damaged, and several that were completely destroyed.
Like this bookshelf.
Pardon my grossness, but essentially, I paid $5,000 to turn our crap into diarrhea.
Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the move than this image.
My in-laws received this china set as a wedding gift 50 years ago. We inherited it when we got married 25 years ago. It has endured 17 previous moves under our care; perhaps more than 30 moves in its 50-year existence. It’s the most-uncrappy crap we have.
I’m not very sentimental (truthfully, I lobbied for getting rid of this crap, too), but when I saw this box, my heart felt like it had been crushed, too.
(Okay, that was bit of an overstatement for poetic effect. But I did feel a brief moment of mild sadness.)
I dreaded showing my wife. (Which thankfully, I didn’t have to do because we have a child who takes every single bit of information in the known universe as her God-given mission to personally divulge).
We dreaded opening the box.
We expected to open a really expensive box of garbage.
But what we found inside was… not a single piece had been damaged. Not a chip, crack, or break anywhere.
The image of the crushed box with beautifully preserved antique china inside reminded me of this truth from 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Did you catch that? We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus. We are the walking wounded. But, in Christ, God uses our wounds to testify to the love, grace, and new life found in Jesus. Just like Christ’s wounds and death bring new life to those who trust in him, so God uses the wounds we carry with us to bring healing to others.
That’s why the Apostle Paul can say that we are being pressurized, but not crushed. We may be confused, but we are not without hope. We may suffer, but we are not destroyed. No matter what stuff happens to us in this life, it cannot take away the life we have in Jesus!
Stuff happens. And though we may try to purge ourselves of it, some stuff remains with us wherever we go. Through our brokenness the light of Jesus shines through.