Before Jesus went to the cross, he went to the desert. For 40 days he withdrew from all distractions and prepared himself for the path ahead.
Now, as followers of Christ we are invited to remember his sacrifice and go into a season of reflection and preparation ourselves. Lent is your personal invitation to experience Easter beyond a new flowery dress and eggs in a basket, by first doing as Jesus did, offering an intentional sacrifice.
The 40 days of Lent, marking Jesus’ withdrawal to the desert before the cross, begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. 40 days of personal sacrifice. 40 days of focus on Jesus as a result of our chosen sacrifice.
The traditional sacrifices for Lent are objects we crave such as coffee, soda, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, TV or social media. What will you choose as your intentional sacrifice to honor the sacrifice of Jesus for you personally? What will you offer as a holy exchange to prepare for Easter this year?
How about your STUFF? Yes, the stuff you own, the stuff you bought with your hard earned money that is now sitting on a shelf, in a drawer, or piled in a corner. The stuff you no longer need, but for one reason or another, you’ve been holding on to.
Would you be willing to sacrifice a bit of your stuff every day for the next 40 days to remember the greater sacrifice of Jesus? Would you intentionally make more space in your life for God with a simpler lifestyle?
Ya’ll know, I’m a fully reformed former addict of stuff. Pretty stuff. Stuff I could wear and stuff I could fill my home with. Stuff that said “I’m somebody” and “look at all I have”. I spent my years accumulating more and more and you know what I found … it was never enough. I always wanted more.
And then I read a book with a challenge. The challenge was to give away one material object you most loved to someone who had admired it. I had a big ol’ house full of pretty things, but one of my favorite things was a wrought iron 4 tiered serving tray with beautiful white plates. It sat prominently displayed in my kitchen and I just loved it.
And I knew I was to give it away. Yes, while I still used it and while I still enjoyed it, let go of it. But dang I didn’t want to. My friend Laura always commented on my serving tray when visiting my house. So I showed up at her door by the end of the day with my treasured material object and I gave it to her. It’s space on my kitchen counter sat empty as a reminder of this challenge and I began to notice how good that felt. Space.
That was 10 years ago. I visited her house last month for the first time since I moved away and guess what was sitting on her table … the tray I loved, but gave to her.
This was the first tangible exercise in letting go of things for me. It created a domino effect that soon lead to my very first 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.
40 days of letting go. 40 days of sacrifice. 40 days of declaring simplicity over show and clarity over clutter. 40 days to remember the things we own shouldn’t own us.
And we begin tomorrow!
Who is in for the Lent 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge?
An intentional sacrifice of ‘stuff’?
Yes, this is de-cluttering with a purpose. This is a declaration of cleared space and availability for more of what God has for us.
I just wonder if God has been trying to take you somewhere and give you divine direction, but girl you can’t go because of all your stuff. You aren’t available because look at all your baggage. What could God do with a life like yours that was fully available? A life like yours with a complete surrender? A life like yours with open space and less crap to drag with you?
Let me tell you what he did with mine … he showed me the adventure of a lifetime. Once I let go of all my stuff and declared my life fully available, he brought opportunities to go and do things I could have never imagined before. Now maybe those opportunities were always there, but I couldn’t see them because my view was cluttered with all I had accumulated.
In Matthew 19 we read of a man who came to Jesus and asked “what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus reminded him of the rightful way of living and all the commandments. The man said “ahhhh, awesome, I already do all those things. Woooohoooo, I must be good!” Then Jesus said in verse 21 “go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man left very sad because he had many possessions.
What kept him from following Jesus? His stuff. And really, aren’t we the same?
If God said “come on girl, let’s go on an adventure” what would you have to get rid of for that adventure? What would you have to leave behind before you could go? Show God you’re totally available for all he has in store for you by preparing now … start letting go!
Is your clutter stopping you from following Jesus?
Is your clutter distracting you from following Jesus?
Is your clutter stealing the joy Jesus came to offer you?
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of more, more, more and clutter our lives with nonsense. What do we even spend our money on? Why are we keeping all this stuff? Life is short and it’s passing us by, and if we’re missing opportunities presented to us by God because of our habit of buying, accumulating, stacking, piling, then ultimately having to care for and clean our stuff … well, we’re gonna regret that!
At the end of your life you will never say “look at all my stuff”. What will matter are your memories, your connections, your adventures, your experiences. But the biggest obstacle between us and creating memories and connections, and having experiences, is our stuff. Our stuff is stealing the abundant life Christ came to give us.
Lord, convict us now if the things we have are holding us back from the greater things you are offering us. Help us loosen our grip so we can reach for you.
If you feel that holy conviction that makes you slightly uncomfortable and sweaty, if you’re suddenly in a self-induced tail-spin of not knowing where to start, stressing about your closet in an instant, here’s the simple daily plan.
Now remember, this isn’t just de-cluttering your home, this is making room for what God wants for you. This is a practical step of obedience in saying yes to God’s offerings through an intentional sacrifice of the things holding you back. We do this in remembrance of the 40 day withdraw and sacrifice of Jesus in the desert in preparation for the cross.
1️⃣STEP 1: Make a list of 40 areas in your home (more on that in a minute … don’t freak out).
2️⃣STEP 2: De-clutter one area per day, beginning tomorrow, Wednesday February 26th.
Over the next 40 days (that’s specifically 6 days per week, Monday-Saturday, Sundays are not included in the Lent calendar), by tackling one area per day purging one bag of unnecessary stuff, you’ll de-clutter your entire home, let go of many worldly possessions and pure junk, bless a few others in the process, but most importantly this will be your act of obedience showing God you are available for anything and everything he wants to do in your life!
40 Bags in 40 Days … get it? (Totally brilliant and totally not my original idea, but you can love me or hate me anyway for sharing).
Just one bag per day in one area.
The next day we’ll move on to the next area and fill another bag.
Start living more out of intention than living out of habit. Habit is to just keep all that stuff and keep buying more … intention is making room for the BIG Life you were created for.
I can hear you now …
“But I’m not a hoarder.”
“I don’t have a huge house.”
“I can’t think of 40 areas.”
Let me address those now.
I move every year. The only things I actually own are clothes, suitcases, a few dishes and decorations and minimal furniture … I typically have very little. If I can do this, you can do this. (I just sold every piece of furniture in my house, along with all the decorations and I sleep darn well at night!)
Kitchen cabinets can be divided into several areas/days. (top cabinets, lower cabinets, drawers, below the sink, etc.)
Some of you could spend a whole freakin’ week in your closet. (Top hanging, lower hanging, folded, shoes, seasonal etc.)
This isn’t a full one hour project every day and who says it has to be a jumbo sized garbage bag? Some days it may be a Wal-Mart bag with a few items of trash. Other days may be an entire donation load to the local Goodwill.
The exercise is more about a conscious effort to get rid of a little every day and choose Jesus over the “stuff”. With each item in the bag, we’re declaring our availability to the almighty.
God, I am available.
God, I am here and I am ready.
God, I don’t need 30 t-shirts. I’ll keep 5 and release the rest.
God, my collection of Rae Dunn is pretty and all, but the truth is it’s a little out of hand, that stops now. I’ll prove my serious commitment in making space for you by giving away half of it this week.
God, the $40 I spend per month on that storage unit could be better spent on adventures with you, seeing this great big world you’ve created, so I’m getting rid of all the stuff I’ve been keeping. Bye bye now.
You just never know where this act of obedience may lead you. What started as a challenge to let go of a single treasure, let to me releasing my death grip on every material object I owned. Then our feet were set on a path of freedom and adventure that took us to living on the beach for 1 year, on a 200 acre ranch for 1 year, on a private lake for 1 year, and now preparing to be pretty much homeless and traveling full-time.
Is that the life for everyone? No, probably not. But what I find interesting is it’s the desire for many of us. The desire for freedom and open spaces. Well honey, you can’t have open spaces with all that stuff!
This is where it starts.
Want to supercharge this Lent? As you daily eliminate the extras in your life and create space for more of Jesus, also commit to not buying any more stuff for the next 40 days! That’s right, releasing the stuff and not bringing more stuff in to fill the space. Leave those open spaces for what God is doing. Let the empty corners of your home and drastically simplified closets and shelves say “God, I’m ready! This space is all yours.”
(If you would like the free 40 Bags in 40 Days printable, hop on over to my facebook, either my personal page Pamela Crim or BIG Life. It’s waiting for you now. I’ve designed the printout to perfectly match your BIG Life Planner! But a plain lined piece of paper numbered 1-40 will work just fine too.)