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Detaching from the World

“Desiring exquisite food and clothing is like painting firewood. These things are consumables. Clothes keep you warm regardless of their color. Common foods will satisfy your hunger. Desire what is right for you.” — Guigo1: Meditations

There is a Spiritual Discipline of Detachment that will help us make spiritual progress. Attaching to the world is natural; detaching from it makes no sense until you transfer that attachment to God.

I loved the way Guigo put it when he described desiring clothes as painting firewood. It all burns. That is a great way to keep the goods of this world in mind.

Honestly, I wish I did not have as much as I do have. I don’t even know how much I have or what I have. I envy those who have so little that they know every item they own and put it into use daily. I’m never as free as when I am traveling on a mission trip. I am forced to narrow down my personal belongings to make ample room to bring supplies for the mission plus extra gifts for the missionaries we serve. I wear the same jewelry every day. I wear some of my clothes more than once. It brings such freedom. If I have been gone a long time, it is sometimes hard to think about what to wear once I get home because I have so many choices.

There is a delicate balance of living in this world and not getting too attached to it. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have comforts for our time here. It is that He wants us to keep it all in perspective. To help me keep God’s perspective, I have a personal prayer list that is three-tiered. I pray about things I want. I try not to grow too attached to these things. I put them on the list if they seem a reasonable request that God might want to give me. Then I pray over things that are more crucial. This is where I pray for my family. Lastly, I pray for what is critical,--my relationship with God. In this way I acknowledge the things I want for my comfort in this world but leave them to be confirmed by God. I know He has the bigger picture of my life in view and perhaps living without some of these blessings is good for me.

I’ve had the list for quite some time, and I’m truly surprised about some of the yeses God has given to items on the list. For example, I had a red convertible on there. I do drive a red convertible, and it meets all my specifications, thanks to my husband’s tenacity in getting it for me. The particular car I wanted is not a necessity, but God granted me this gift. It truly makes me grateful to God each time I get in my car (I’ve had it for several years). I tell people the convertible is my therapy. I love how the gift of the car is part of the intimacy I share with God. It is does not distract me from God at all. I know my car will burn in the end, but it gets me to the places I need to travel and reminds me of God’s goodness to me.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” Even my works and actions will be tested by fire. I won’t have actions that will survive when I am too attached to the comforts I have in the world.

 

[i] Ed. By Kenneth CGA. From the Fathers to the Churches (London, Collins: 1988), p. 408.

 

 

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