BY AMY WALTON |
I finally began a serious decluttering of my coastal Virginia house during this COVID-19 pandemic. With a sheltering-at-home order that followed the closure of schools and many businesses, I had a lot of extra time to start culling 30 years’ worth of belongings.
It was both a relief and a huge task, and it’s still in progress.
I tend to overthink things, and I have a serious case of “sentimentalitis.” My attachment to my sons’ report cards, sports certificates, and school projects has led to far too many Rubbermaid containers neatly stacked in a couple closets. Considering they both live nearly half a world away, I started thinking that maybe those containers need paring along with my drawers and cabinets.
Most of us are attached to certain things. I still have my 55-year-old Munsters lunchbox and a collection of Beatles vinyl that hasn’t been played in decades. Why am I holding onto these items, along with Post-It notes my sons left me at various times during their teen years? I plan to sell the albums and create an art journal with the notes, but so many other things in my home really need to go and ideally to a person or family in need.
Detachment and focusing on Jesus—on BEING Jesus to others– are currently guiding my next steps in this process of decluttering.
I had a good example in my late Moravian father. For nearly two decades, he directed our church’s storefront ministry, a venue that provided food, furniture, clothing, and financial support to people in need. He served the poor, and he mentored many young adults as community service workers. Daddy took his position very seriously, to the point that he rarely spent more than 3 nights on vacations or family visits. He’d always say, “I have to get back to the store. I have people to serve.”
Yes, he had to get back to serve. To be Jesus to those in need in his community.
When the Master himself commissioned the Twelve to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, he told them, “Take nothing for the journey-no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” (Luke 9:3, NIV) This instruction may have been to help them travel lighter and to depend on others for support, just as we Christians must rely on each other.
Whatever the case, Luke writes earlier that when the first disciples were called by Jesus, they left everything to follow him (Luke 5:11).
Yes, everything: Their homes, their families, their jobs.
I’m betting they also ditched their comfort zones, egos, and any remaining selfishness they had.
Can YOU go out to proclaim the Gospel and to be Jesus to others without taking a bag or an extra shirt? Can I?
Of course, we can! On a daily basis, we don’t need any “extras” to be the hands, feet, mouth, ears, eyes, and heart of the Lord. We just show up as we are: In our places of work, in our neighborhoods, in the greater community. We show up—hopefully—without assumptions, without biases, without fear, and without worrying about what others think.
We show up to share Jesus with others through our words and actions and an openness to listen. We don’t need to preach. We simply need to BE Jesus and to share the love that is the embodiment of him.
I often think about how much better and bigger I could serve if I wasn’t so weighed down with extra stuff. My sense of mission and serving God are big catalysts behind my current reduction of said stuff. As a widowed empty nester, I often think about the lay ministry opportunities I might pursue if I had fewer home maintenance responsibilities and a smaller home: Multiple mission trips I could make. Extra dollars to support ministry and underserved populations. More time to volunteer. Time to write additional Christian articles and books.
Sometimes I become so focused on these seemingly “greater” efforts to live out my faith that I become blind to the mission fields that are right under my nose: The elderly neighbor who needs a few items from the grocery store. The department store cashier who appears to be having a bad day. The acquaintance with whom I don’t “click” very well. The friend whose political or religious views are different from mine.
We Americans are living in a time of pandemic, division, and a questionable economy. Many other nations are experiencing the same. As challenging as these days can be, they are also ripe opportunities for us—the universal body of believers—to be Jesus to everyone we meet– through our actions, our words, and our prayers. It’s a journey that requires nothing but a loving heart and a calling to leave something behind and follow the Lord, to BE him to everyone we meet.
Our being Jesus to others is woven throughout our Moravian Covenant for Christian Living. We are to witnesses to our faith by word and deed. We open our heart and hands to our neighbors with the message of the love of God. We are ready to minister of our substance to their necessities. We. seek to meet the needs of the world in our self-giving love. Yes, it’s all there.
As we move forward on our own journeys, let’s reflect on what we need to leave behind in order to be more effective missionaries, whether in our places of work or in a foreign land, and let’s focus on being Jesus to everyone we encounter.
It’s more important than ever.
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.amy-walton.com or