here's what i'm going to do

I had to smile as I was reading some more of Radical tonight after the girlies were in bed. I ended yesterday’s post with, “God, just tell me what to do.” And on page 160, David Platt writes, “With 1.4 million Bedouins in Algeria who have never even heard the gospel, it makes little sense for us to sit over here asking, ‘What do you want me to do, God?‘”

Whoops.

He goes on. “The answer is clear. The will of God is for you and me to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the gospel and the glory of God known among all peoples, particularly those who have never even heard of Jesus.”

He says it’s not a matter of finding God’s will but obeying it.

“Will we sit back and wait for some tingly feeling to go down our spines before we rise up and do what we have already been commanded to do? Will we risk everything–our comfort, our possessions, our safety, our security, our very lives–to make the gospel known among unreached people? Such rising up and such risk taking are the unavoidable results of a life that is radically abandoned to Jesus.”

And at the very real risk of coming across as a prideful do-gooder, I’m going to share what I’ve decided to do. They’re baby steps really, but they’re steps, and I think that’s the important thing. Moving. Forward. And really, truly, I’m only sharing this to give some tangibility to this abstract talk of radical abandonment and spine-tingling surrender. And it’s honestly not even very radical. Yet.

Anyway.

We don’t have a penny in any kind of savings account or retirement funds, and Gabe’s paychecks go toward our bills and very few frills, so we don’t have much to give in the way of money right now.

But we do have stuff. LOTS OF STUFF.

I’ve been combing (wading, plowing) through our entire house and getting rid of stuff we don’t need (but that others might). I’ve always thought of myself as pretty clutter-free (ever since my dad took a rake to my bedroom floor when I was 10). Seems I’ve been deceiving myself.

The first load of crap? Went to a friend’s garage sale back in July to help raise money for him to go to Cambodia. This past weekend, I put lots of stuff out on the curb where it was immediately snatched up and hopefully blesses the people who took it (instead of enabling their hoarding issues). Today the Kidney Foundation picked up a TON of stuff for our local thrift store which provides jobs and cheap clothing/household stuff to people in need (and me).

So none of that really hurt very much.

I took some nicer stuff to Half Price Books and Once Upon a Child and got $23 which is now in an envelope marked Mission: Cambodia. A few (many) thousand more dollars, and we can go back. All five of us this time.

My sister Bethany (whose husband Stew is a youth pastor) helped inspire the kids in their youth group to give more. Here’s part of the comment she left on yesterday’s post:

After going through “Crazy Love” for a few months on Wednesday nights at youth group and then going on our missions trip to Jackson, KY (the poorest region in the U.S.) and studying the dozens of passages in Scripture that talk about God’s love for the poor and our responsibility to care for them, our teens have been challenged to put their knowledge of the Scriptures to action.

We were reading Luke 12:33-34 in Sunday school four days ago and this is what it said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So I asked a question because I want to start obeying the Scriptures instead of just nodding my head in agreement when I read them. I said, “How can I sell my possessions? Craigslist?” That got the teens to talking out loud and one of them shouted out, “We should have a yard sale!” So on Saturday August 21st, our youth group is going to have a Luke 12:33 Yard Sale and all our proceeds are going to our orphanage in Cambodia. They have room for 2 more orphans and even though they will need monthly support, we can at least get the ball rolling. The idea isn’t just to sell our ratty old things, but really think about what we NEED and what we could sell to give to the poor. I am SO EXCITED about what God is doing in the hearts of our teens (we just had a testimony time at youth group last night and they all shared so much and it was so encouraging!) and their enthusiasm to put what they’re learning into practice!

So my next big thing is to go back through the house and find really nice things that someone would really, really want (and pay more than 50 cents for) and donate them to the Luke 12:33 Yard Sale. I’ve already got a pile, and I can tell I’m supposed to put an item in when I hold it in my hand and feel a sick little twinge in my stomach but then a beautiful (and bigger) twinge in my heart when I think of TWO MORE CHILDREN in that orphanage.

I know this is repeat information for some of you, but our church’s orphanage and Bethany’s are right down the road from each other. Isn’t that crazy?! We didn’t even know it until they’d already been established. And I got to visit theirs while I was there. So awesome! And the thought of rescuing two more precious children and giving them a huge, built-in family with lots of love and food and JESUS! Well.

So, that’s where I’m starting. My goal is to give and sell until it really hurts. And I have a few other ideas up my sleeve as well. (In addition to our sweet Compassion daughter, Maria, we’re committing to give $25/month to these precious kiddos.)

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any ideas of baby steps you can take to get started? Anything in your home you could sell and give the money to people in need? If you live close to me and have some really nice, valuable, awesome stuff I could give to Bethany’s youth group’s garage sale, I can promise you that your return on your investment will be EXPONENTIAL.

Tell me what you’re thinking. I’d love to know.

14 thoughts on “here's what i'm going to do

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » radical response (chapter 7)

  2. Pingback: Marla Taviano » radical response (chapter 7)

  3. Elisabeth

    Marla- is the garage sale next weekend local? I have a crib and toy box and some kids stuff we have stashed in the garage to get rid of- can we donate to the garage sale? Let me know. Maybe I’ll get motivated to purge more too!
    I want to get the Radical book too. I’d be into reading it for 9 weeks! I’m in!

  4. Elizabeth

    Megan’s read-along idea sounds good to me!

    You give you me a lot to think about this Saturday morning. It sounds trite, but we are starting with our bedroom. It is full of crap (that’s exactly what most of it is) and we are purging today. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    I want to sell stuff until it hurts. Actually, putting together and organizing a sale is the most painful part for me.

    Earlier this summer, some friends and I organized a giveaway/fundraiser sale. The giveaway stuff was open to whoever needed it/wanted it. Donations were accepted. Then we had NICE stuff sold at more like Craigslist prices than garage sale prices, and that didn’t work quite as well, even though people knew all proceeds were going to World Vision. Garage salers seem to want garage sale prices, no matter where the money is going. Just thought I would throw that out there.

    Anyway – yes. I want to sell what we have (most of it) and give, give, give. I want more Luke 12:33. I want more Gospel.

    (Radical read-along? Please? I’m just going to keep bugging you until you tell me no.)

  6. Rhonda

    Powerful message. Thank you for the reminder to just do what I’ve already been commanded. Your pictures really made me feel guilty for my desire for things – unnecessary things in my life. Seeing how some of those people live their lives everyday helped remind me of my selfishness and how I need to do and give more to help others. I really appreciate you sharing your trip.

  7. meghan @ spicy magnolia

    I’ve been wanting to clean out our house now for awhile and go through things…but you’ve given me much food for thought as to the motivation for doing it and what can come from it. I want to take some steps.

  8. Jen your cousin

    I always save your blogs for last so that I can soak in and remember what you have to say. Posts like today and yesterday’s are exactly the reasons why.

    Devin and I have purged our stuff a couple of times since we’ve been married and given a lot away, but now I’m really challenged to do it again, a lot less selfishly this time.

    We also have an “Acts 2:45” jar that we fill with the earnings from items sold on Craig’s list or at a thrift store. Then, when we hear of someone in our area who has a tangible need, we see how much is in the jar and how we can help fill that need.

    We have two Compassion sponsor girls in Uganda and we also joined the Mocha Club to help building wells in Africa. (But I’ll be honest, I don’t feel a “pinch” when we give that money. It doesn’t feel like a “sacrifice” which makes me realize we could/should be giving more.)

    But even with “all” this – I know there is still SOOOOO much more I need to be doing! Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Missy June

    Marla! I’m so proud of you! Of course, I don’t know you, but anyway it is exciting to see the Lord providing for others through His children…and to hear the testimony of young people shifting their attitude from the cultural norm of gimme!

    I’m a single mother, with very limited financial resources . But I’m doing what I can to cultivate an attitude of giving in my children and my own life. I love to donate to others through “Freecycle” and Salvation Army and incorporate my little ones in combing through items to donate. We are blessed to tithe and I’m cutting down our monthly spending by eliminating things like home phone service and cable so that we can establish a savings plan. It’s scary and challenging and liberating!

    I’ve been on the receiving end of so many of our Lord’s blessings and favor…I just want to pass along the joy.

    My father repeatedly said, “You can never outgive God,” and I’m learning that it is true!

  10. Lisa

    Marla, we’ve recently done the same. We got rid of about a thousand (yes, 1,000) items from our 3-bedroom townhouse. How we had that much, I will never know. We were both starting to feel beholden to our possessions, and it was so incredibly freeing to loosen our grip on it all. We gave away countless perfectly functional items (all in excellent condition) in the hopes that others could be blessed by them. I will say one thing, though; I believe God blesses us so that we can bless others. As Paul says in 2 Cor. 8:13: ‘Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.’ I used to feel guilty for having so much, but I believe God has been showing me that, as long as we put the possessions He has entrusted to us in their proper place and give to others freely and joyfully, we should not feel guilty for what we are blessed to have, as all is from Him. I’ve learned to shift my thinking from feeling guilty to feeling grateful. There is not one thing in this house that I would hesitate giving to someone else in need, and believe me, I didn’t always feel that way. The radical transformation of my heart toward my possessions is nothing short of a miracle. I will pray for you as you take these baby steps; in my mind, there’s nothing small about them!!! Love and blessings!

  11. Liz

    I have begun the process of decluttering my home too but my motivations and intentions are slowly shifting from self to others as I think about our Compassion kid, Jose, and all the people in the world who have nothing at all. I don’t live near you but I can do something in my community similar to Bethany’s youth group. What a great idea!

  12. Marla Fletcher

    Trying so hard to weed out like you! Closet after closet to start – where does all that stuff come from??? We have two bags full of at least 10 nice coats that don’t get worn. Would she want those? We have probably close to 100 books that my mom has read and we just need to get rid of them – they are Christian fiction. All in perfect condition – do you want them? We can bring them next weekend. I would rather give them to this cause. Let me know what you want. I love to get rid of stuff, just need to get the rest of the family on board!

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