Thou Shalt Not Covet (Thy Friend’s House)
Everyone sins. Some people have sins that are more obvious, more public, more noticeable. Other people have sins that are an easily-kept secret. I have a particular one (of many, I am sure) that I feel I must share with you at this particular moment in time.
This is a particular issue in our line of work. As global workers, we hear (and preach) a lot about denying self, picking up our cross, forgetting what lies behind, and striving toward what is ahead. That is all well and good, but it is hard to look ahead when my head is always turned, leering and secretly thinking, If only I had that.
When I was pregnant with our first child, we considered buying a house. We looked around, researched, planned…and then the husband said, “I think we need to remain mobile.” (Husband has the gift of prophecy). Thus the dream of a house of my own ended. And then everyone around me started buying houses! Not just any old house, but houses I could have seen myself living in, fixing up, raising a family in, and calling home. We rented, moved around, lived with family members—and now today I sit on someone else’s couch in someone else’s home which we are renting, 3000 miles away from where the American dream had secretly enmeshed itself in my heart.
Do you see the sin there? I like to think it is not there, and that it is only natural to want something for yourself. That is not bad in and of itself, right? What about when it becomes painful to even visit those places which friends and family call home, wishing it was you and begrudging them the joy? That is a heart issue, and I am struggling with it.
We spent a month in a school that prepared us for living and working in another culture. The instructors told us—time and time again—that in order to best acclimate to another culture, we needed to leave who we were and where we came from behind. This included personal belongings, things that had become a part of our history and our lives like…our couch.
Our couch. Last week I sat on this ‘other’ couch and cried because I missed my stupid couch. I have been going over pictures of other workers preparing to come here, dwelling on the fact that they ‘get’ to bring everything they own over here, while we left nearly everything behind. (Do not think this was an entirely spiritual decision which we made; it was made in large part to save money.) We are waiting on a 6-foot-by-6-foot crate with the few things we could not leave behind: pictures, toys, files, and our bed. I covet that 20-foot container they get to bring. And I covet the money that they have that pays for that container. By extension, I belittle the money that was given generously and sacrificially by others so that we could bring a little bit of home with us. There is a sin being committed here…and again, I struggle with it, because I know it.
Why is this even a struggle? These are just things! What is at the root of the covet? A pastor here said that sin is not so much the issue, but the thirst that precedes the sin. We solve the issue by quenching the thirst.
I keep thinking I am quenching the thirst. And then God reveals to me another area where I am still thirsty and craving something other than Him. He points out how pitiful I am. And I am brought back to the idea of dying to self. To quench the thirst is to die to self, and to live for Jesus.