Unpacking, Diet Cokes, and Living Dangerously

Well, it has been exactly one month since I last posted on this blog. What have I been doing? Well, glad you asked. I’ve been unpacking. And given that this is what the suitcase looked like when I came home from Romania, it’s no small wonder it has taken me this long. 
Notice how I was careful to hide my dirty unmentionables before I snapped the picture. Actually I do that automatically when I’m packing up to go home. I’m always worried they’ll pick my suitcase for a random search at the airport, and my dirty undies would be right on top. I certainly cannot have that.
Seriously, my suitcase was unpacked the morning after I arrived back home in Crawford, Texas. If I hadn’t been absolutely dead on my feet when I arrived home that night, I would have done what I always do which is unpack immediately, start a load of wash, and store the suitcase. However, my lack of adequate sleep for the 10 days I was in Romania was fast catching up to me. The suitcase and the laundry waited until morning.

But even with the suitcase emptied and all the laundry done, I was still packing a heavy load. Know what I mean? Like when your brain (… we won’t even talk about your heart) won’t shut off because you’re so wrapped up in something that you can’t even find words to explain it?

That’s where I’ve been the last month. I’ve sat down in front of my keyboard numerous times, and my hands just pause over the keys. Where to start? What to say? How to explain? And then there’s the tears that blur my eyes so badly I can’t see straight, much less think straight.


It is indelibly etched with the faces of people whose names I won’t forget and whose circumstances keep me on my knees before our merciful God.

There is a song by Point of Grace called Heal the Wound, and the chorus goes like this:

Heal the wound, but leave the scar.
To remind me of how merciful you are.

I am broken, torn apart.

Take the pieces of this heart,

And heal the wound, but leave the scar.

Those words capture what mine fail to say. I pray God never takes the aching in my heart away and the scar will remain to remind me … We have so much. We have so much we truly don’t need. We are often consumed by feeding our excess while others are starving and without the basics.

But you know what really matters? What matters is NOT that my heart has been changed forever. What matters is that my actions change. And I’m discovering that small choices can make big differences. Let me give you one small example.

For those of you who know me well, you’d say I’m a Diet Coke fanatic. And to be even more accurate, you’d say I am a Sonic Diet Coke addict. Well, I’m happy to report that is now PAST tense… I was a Sonic Diet Coke addict. I have been freed from bondage since Wednesday, October 10. I had my last one at 6:36 am. Yes, I know the time because I have the receipt from the last one I purchased that morning. A quick look through my debit card statement revealed I spent in excess of $30 a month at Sonic… and that’s not counting any burgers and fries. That was just Diet Cokes. Seriously. I’m ashamed.

The truth is I’d never contemplated it before. The scenario always went something like this. I’m thirsty. Hmmm, a Sonic Diet Coke sounds good. Yes, could I please have a large Diet Coke? No, that’s all. Thank you.

I suspicion that’s how it happens for a lot of us. It may not be Diet Coke for you. And, honestly it’s not just Diet Coke for me. There are quite a few other things I can add to my list of excesses. Time on the computer. Multiple pairs of black shoes. Heck, multiple pairs of shoes period. Six large tubs of Christmas decorations. The list goes on.

And the weird thing is, I asked myself how I got this way and I have no clue. I certainly didn’t set out to live an excessive life. But that’s just it. I don’t think there’s typically a lot of thinking or planning that goes on when we’re feeding our excess. In fact, I think it’s likely there is virtually no thinking. I see. I want. I get. Me, me, me. More, more, more.

I realize if you’re still reading this by now you may have decided I’ve gone “holier than thou,” and I hope you hear me when I say unequivocally, I’m pointing the finger at no one but myself. No one but myself. This is between God and me. If any of this is resonating with you, let that be between God and you. If you’re brave … and I mean that sincerely… ask Him to show you the areas of excess in your life. But get ready to live dangerously. Because He will.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV84