Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved garage sales, going to them and having them. My mother used to take us with her almost every Saturday morning that we didn’t sleep over at Grandmother’s house. Before the sun ever slid from his cool, gray bed sheets, we’d steal out of ours, into the station wagon, and across town to the donut shop. Teeth brushed, braids tight and damp, eyes still gritty with unfinished dreams, my sister and I would munch happily on maple long-johns and donut holes while Mom sipped coffee and charted our course.
It felt like adventure. It felt like Saturday.
I used to do the same with Hunter right after Hope was born. He loved it as much as I did. A shush finger to his lips, he’d get himself dressed, peek in at Daddy and sister to make sure they were still sleeping, and take my hand, a conspiratorial grin on his little freckled face. Off we’d go to spend a whole ten dollars on donuts, coffee, and tiny plastic toys. It was our special time. When Hope was old enough, we went as a family.
A few months ago, we had our own garage sale. We thought we might be moving, so we got very honest about the things hanging in our closets and cluttering our drawers. When we told the kids that they could keep the money for anything they sold, Hope got down to business. Within a couple of hours, it looked as if she might have more stuff in the hallway than in her room.
Hunter, not so much. He likes his stuff. Never mind the fact that you can’t walk in his room or the fact that his dresser drawers are so full that most of them can’t be fully opened or closed. He did pull out a few things, though, a faux alligator briefcase that he used to carry around as a kid when he wanted to look important, a skateboard, an Xbox console and tiny TV, a poseable wooden figure for sketching people, a Buzz Lightyear action figure, and, yes, a Woody doll.
We tried to talk Hunter into digging a little deeper, but he wouldn’t. He figured he could make just as much money as Hope selling just a few hot items, I guess.
Buzz and Woody sold quickly, of course, but Woody’s hat got left behind. Not even joking! I was so sad!
We chuckled a little when we saw the prices Hunter had put on things. He wanted ten dollars each for the faux alligator briefcase, which looked as if it had been dragged behind a school bus, and the poseable figure, which was scratched up and poke full of holes like a Voodoo doll. He didn’t get it.
Hope made more money than the rest of us put together in the first hour or so. She had taken the time to price every single thing individually, selling Barbie shoes by the pair for ten cents rather than going the “everything in this bag for a dollar” route. She’d also taken the time to bag sets of toys in gallon Ziploc bags, itemizing what was in each. She was one of those kids who never lost pieces to anything, so this worked in her favor.
When his sister cleared one hundred dollars, Hunter got a little frustrated. His game plan wasn’t working. It seemed no one wanted to make his trash their treasure, and the things that he’d been hesitant to sell at first began to look more like trash in comparison to the riches in our cash box.
Without further hesitation, he dove back into the abyss of his room and emerged with enough items to fill a couple of storage bins. I’m sure it was painful for him, but in the end, it paid off in a big way.
It’s hard to let go of the things we are used to having, things that have become, over time, a part of who we are, our life experience. The funny thing is it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not those things benefit us, whether or not they are worth more than a trade we could make, or whether or not we even like them. We get attached and are hesitant to part with what is ours unless we know for sure that what we will get in return is of far greater value.
Jesus came to offer us something of greater value than even those of us who know Him can fully understand, forgiveness and freedom from sin, eternal life in Heaven, and peace, joy, and purpose here on earth. What more could we possibly want?
All He asks in return is that we let go. Of what? The sin that condemns us, the desires and habits that control us, and the material things that weigh us down.
Junk. Clutter. Chaos.
Why do we even hesitate?