The Crisis of Misplaced Affections

We are moving again. We have been renting a large farmhouse in the country since our move to The South two years ago. We truly love living in the county, but it isn’t cheap. Old farmhouses require constant upkeep, there is always something broken or in need of updating…well…it is old… and the utilities on the home are anything but economical. Yet, despite its faults, the old house has served our family well, and we have been able to use it to show hospitality to friends and family on a regular basis. However, in an effort to be wise stewards of what God has given us, we are in the process of buying a smaller home in the suburbs. So instead of nearly 3,000 square feet we will have less than 2,000. And instead of six acres surrounded by fields and space, we will have a half acre surrounded by neighbors. In some ways, I am looking forward to this change, and in other ways, I admit that am sad to leave the farmhouse.

Life at the farmhouse is the epitome of my ideal. I am a country girl. I love the space and freedom. No one is going to call the fire-department if I want to cook some s’mores on an open fire in the evening. None of the neighbors will think a thing if we don’t rake up our leaves…ever. We can be as loud as we want without causing any annoyances. I enjoy hearing the sound of nature, like the quiet chirping of crickets at night. I let my children roam unattended and explore. I love having a home that provides peace and quiet for our guests. I can see the starts at night and the sunrises in the morning. I hear roosters crow across the neighborhood when the sun breaks out. We have a view of a lake from the front porch and the view from the back yard is a hay field on a hill. There is a lot of character at the old farmhouse. BUT despite my heart’s desire to have this life, God has other plans in mind for our family.

Everyone has an ideal life. For me, it would be a small farm in the country with a great view and a few chickens . . . maybe goats or sheep. I would be at home and very happy with such a life. Perhaps the Lord will allow that kind of living for me on earth and perhaps He will not. Striving for an ideal is not a sin, in fact, often desires are God given for a purpose, even if they are never fulfilled. But when my desires causes me to wrestle with God’s will for my life, it most certainly becomes sinful.

And my sinful reluctance to embrace the twists and turns of life will have an effect on not only my own heart, but the hearts of my children. Two years ago when we were pondering our move from the Midwest, I told my children that it was all about whether God would say “yes” or “no” to our move. He chose to say “yes” and move us. Now He has chosen to move us again. Just this time it won’t be so far. I want my children to see God’s work in our lives, and my desire to follow God, even when my heart cannot see the good of the change. Whether my children are raised running through fields or riding their bikes down the neighborhood street, has no bearing on if they will learn to love God. But my attitude toward God has a LOT to do with their Spiritual walk.

As I was faced with our need to move this summer, I was also confronted with my materialistic heart. It is easy to become idealistic in life, and cling onto that ideal as though it is what defines us. Just because my materialistic desires are not a high end sports car or a mansion on a golf course, does not mean they are any less sinful. I desire a home in the country and a lot of children running around, a few farm animals, and natural beauty. But though that may seem like a wholesome desire, it is just as much a selfish, materialistic one as wanting a condo on a beach. Things are not wrong to want, but we are warned about setting our affections on them. It is easy to hold an ideal way of life so dearly it become the defining factor of life. My ideal should not define me, and it should never be in competition for my affections toward God. So, this year, through our need to move, it was a healthy realization this summer on how attached I had become to my version of an ideal life. I valued my ideal above God’s best.

Along came the aspect of contentment in my ponderings. I spent a lot of time thinking about Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” What is the secret to contentment?

For a time, I felt it was my need to surrender. I needed to surrender my ideal; my dream to God for whatever He had in store. Then I continued thinking on surrender and realized that there would be no need for surrender if I was truly satisfied in God. Because if I am completely satisfied in God, I will joyfully follow Him anywhere He leads. Therefore, the secret of contentment in every circumstance is not surrender, but satisfaction if God. I do not have to battle God about moving us, against my desire to stay until I finally, even reluctantly throw up the white flag and surrender. I was at fault for something far more detrimental than surrender. I had deceived myself into thinking I could be satisfied in something God gave me, more than Himself. It was idolatry. I was in sin for having misplaced affections. It took being faced with leaving my ideal address to see how misplaced my affections had become.

The test of my true satisfaction in God is when He takes something away from me that is precious…my ideal for instance. If when my ideal life is taken away, is my joy unhampered as I revel in Christ even more deeply? Christ must be my complete satisfaction, not my husband, not my family, not my address, not my health, not home-schooling, not finances, not consistency, not anything else. Because God gives and takes away what He chooses. If God is my complete all in all, than all those things that are important to me are not necessary for me to surrender because I will already see them as His.

I do believe I am finally at the place of that test. We move in a month. Despite my sadness in leaving our home in the country, I am coming to terms with a greater value in our move. There will be more people! We will have opportunities that are not possible where we currently live. I am looking forward to meeting our new neighbors and finding ways to minister and reach the lost souls there. We can be a larger part of the lives of people simply because we will be surrounded by them. I look forward to settling in our own home and being closer to our church family as well, and will be able to be more involved with the lives of people. It won’t be an round-trip hour drive to take a meal to someone in need.

I am also looking forward to the time that we will gain from the move. When we first moved into the farmhouse, I remember being surprised at the amount of time it took me to clean and for my husband, a half a day to tend the lawn. At first that was a struggle because it took time from my children and ministry. But we became accustomed to it. Now, moving into a smaller home, will give me more time, because instead of taking two days to clean house, I can get it done in a morning. And instead of a half day to cut grass, my husband should be done in a couple hours. It will be good to have more time in our lives for other ventures besides home-care.
Financially, the move is a smart one. Instead of throwing money down for the comfort of heat and cooling on a monthly basis, we will live in a more economical home and be able to put that money toward other things. We are also able to invest in our own home, instead of sending out a rent check on a monthly basis. It is for the best.

As I consider the blessings from our upcoming move, I also realize that there is a lot I do not know about God’s purpose in our new location. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for His glory through our family and our new neighborhood. My heart is grateful. I am grateful because my heart rests in my Savior. No matter what change He brings into our lives, I know that in Him I can find my complete satisfaction…eternally.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
Psalm 63:1-5