The Problem With Ownership

The Problem With Ownership

Over the course of our adult lives Barbara and I have moved more times than we care to remember. Yet only when we retired did the moving become problematic. Leaving a very large church-owned home in Rhode Island to several much smaller homes in California brought us face to face with “downsizing”: What to retain, what to sell, what to give away and what to take to the landfill.

The real pain in downsizing was the unhappy discovery of what a pack-rat I had become over sixty-some years, the discovery of how acquisitive I have been, the discovery of how dependent I had become on things - elevating them almost to the status of persons.

I learned early on that our children don’t really belong to us, but to God. We have them only on loan for a time – to be loved, cared for and ultimately to be sent out to find their own ways in life.

The downsizing reminded me once move of the Psalmist’s admonition: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and all who dwell therein.”

If, in the light of biblical faith, we have no absolute claim to sovereignty over anything, even our most intimate and personal “possessions”: our families, how then can we presume to claim absolute ownership over anything which is less intimately related to us? To be sure, ‘ownership’ is permissible, but only as we hold ourselves accountable to God for our stewardship of that which we claim.

Our management can be for good or ill, to the end of extending the Grace of God or neglecting those whom God would entrust to our care. This biblical insight does not provide us with solutions to problems or to questions regarding our stewardship. But if we are listening carefully we realize it does give us a unique perspective from which to view the questions - one in stark contrast to the perspective the world would have us follow.

During these fall months, might it be time to consider downsizing - our life styles, our wallets - to honor the Grace of God in others?

+George N. Hunt

9 comments (Add your own)

1. Rod Davis wrote:
Thank you, George+. I too am at a stage in life when these wise thoughts keep things in perspective.

Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 10:18 AM

2. Jane Snibbe wrote:
Thank you, +George. As always, keen insight clearly expressed. Jane

Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 10:34 AM

3. Jim Jordan wrote:
I too thank you, +George. Downsizing seems a continuous vocation for the retired - and a gift to our children when we go to our Heavenly God.

Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 1:25 PM

4. Ernie Lewis wrote:
Thank you +George! "Home run" as usual, especially to those of us getting a bit long in the tooth!Thanks for the reminder!

Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 2:06 PM

5. Lucretia Jevne wrote:
Ditto to the above comments especially as I look at parting with much of my accumulated library - not to mention the family silver!

Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 3:08 PM

6. Ginny Leary wrote:
You have given me much to think about, +George, as I am trying to downsize and declutter; and what memories

are connected to the 'things' we hang on to.

Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 3:59 PM

7. Nancy Shelton Anderson wrote:
Thank you George for your wise insight. I have been trying to simplify my life for a couple of years. It comes down to a matter of choice and what is most important. You have given us new meaning. I have missed your sermons when you were interim at St. Martin's. Stay well.

Wed, September 12, 2012 @ 6:23 AM

8. Steven Yurosko wrote:
In our move to Montana, Sue and I have never been more aware of all the "stuff" we have aquired over the last 30yrs! and the power it holds over us. But we are trying real hard to let go, I am off to the thrift store with another load, (am I sure I'm never going to need this;-p)

Wed, September 12, 2012 @ 8:31 AM

9. Harry Allagree+ wrote:
Thanks, George. It seems as though I'm constantly struggling to downsize from the "wants" to the "needs". Your article reminds me that as a I get older and eventually approach the final letting go, I should be trying to make it easier on my kids not to have to deal with so much "stuff"! Especially, since I remember how much I hate moving things myself!

Wed, September 12, 2012 @ 4:15 PM

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