bits from bob....

Thinking about Moving

by Robert J. Young
January 31, 2003
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

We're getting ready to move again--from a rental property we have occupied for the past 6 months or so to a house we have purchased. I decided to write an article. Coincidentally, in the same week I received an article on the same topic by John Gipson. Gipson quoted an ad, "Moving is like getting a root canal with a 'Garden Weasel.'" Moving is insightful. Lessons are to be learned.

We have not moved much, as the experience of preachers goes. After working with three churches in the first 6 years of our ministry, we have spent 26 years in three places--local ministry in two churches and a 7-year adventure in Christian higher education. We may not like moving, but we have learned something of how to do it. We have also learned a lot of other things. Here is some of what we have learned.

Moving helps one travel light. If one moves every once in a while, the process keeps the accumulation down. The net weight of our recent 1000+ mile move is only a little more than 26 years ago. Through the years, there are a few things we've been tempted to buy but did not when we thought, "We don't want to have to move that!" It is easy to forget that we are only pilgrims and strangers here--that our sojourn is temporary. Moving is a reminder.

Moving brings one face to face with the fact that we spend a lot of money for things that don't satisfy very long. About two years after we married, we bought a new sofa--an expensive, high-quality, hide-a-bed. It may have looked a little nicer than the hand-me-down sectional we were using, but it didn't sit any better. We still have that sofa after 31 years. It's heavy to move, but it refuses to wear out. Moving provides an opportunity for cleaning house, which is exactly why some people dread moving. I've noticed that after people move into a place, their garbage pile is extremely large. It is not comfortable to come face to face with how much money we have wasted on things that don't matter.

Anticipating moves changes priorities. A few years ago, we decided that we would go through life accumulating memories rather than things. We have a few light and inexpensive mementos of our travels, but most of those things are gifts that represent special people in our Christian pilgrimage. Our goal is not to accumulate expensive things, but valued memories.

Moving reminds one that the things we can so easily come to value here are temporary and fleeting. The only things that matter as we think back on our moves and ministries are the people. This world is about people. What we remember about the places we have lived is the people. It is not the house, the surroundings, the things. People enrich our lives far beyond the material things we can accumulate.

Gipson's conclusion, citing the words of Kipling with reference to worldly things, is poignant. "Some day you will meet a man of such stature that he will care for none of these things...and then you will realize how poor you are." Jesus said it this way, "This is the way it is with the man who accumulates things for himself, but is not rich toward God."

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Last updated January 31, 2003.