I grew up on the streets of San Francisco and spent most of my days hanging out with the homeless, drug-addicted, convicts of the city’s ghetto, the Tenderloin district. If there was one group of people I understood from a young age, it was the homeless. Not everybody had the same story or same life situation, but for the most part, the people I came across had nothing to their name—a few clothes on their back, a shopping cart of belongings if they were lucky, and they roamed the city with no place to call their home. When God opened the doors and challenged my heart to downsize my belongings, become a minimalist, forfeit having a home base, and start a traveling ministry, I knew exactly what it looked like. I knew what it meant to have close to nothing. In order to say, “Yes” to what I was challenged in my heart to do, I threw 2 closets and 3 duffel bags worth of clothes & shoes onto the floor and downsized to two suitcases. I sold & donated large amounts of childhood and college memories, including memorabilia from living in China, furniture, and other random items that once meant a great deal to me. In order to have this traveling ministry, I couldn’t take all of this stuff with me—it would get in the way of me going. Having so many things would weigh me down, and though some of them were extremely important to me, I couldn’t have both. Answering God’s call won out in the end. To this day, everything I own fits in the backseat of my car (about the size of a shopping cart).
This was not just a physical cleansing—it represented something far deeper. In order to go on the road and be the woman God was calling me to be, I had to let go of a lot of—stuff. I was in unhealthy relationships. I was putting myself in terrible, compromising positions. I was living to please people who did not care about me. I was holding on to hurt, grief, and unforgiveness. I was still allowing myself to be defined by insecurities that have been haunting me for years. And when God said, “Go,” He was also very clear: “You can’t take it with you.”
Chances are, we aren’t exactly alike—perhaps God is not calling you to minimalize your material things to be practically homeless (though minimalizing is incredible—I highly recommend it), traveling from state to state every week. But maybe there is other baggage that is weighing you down from truly embarking on the adventure God has for you. Maybe you need to dump your closets and duffel bags of scars, hurts, painful memories you hoard, and let it all go. Have you felt in your life, ministry, or relationship with God that you just can’t move forward? Maybe it’s because of all your stuff. If we want to obey God, we can’t take it with us.
I’ve watched thousands of homeless men and women on the streets of the Bay Area surrender and give their lives to Christ. The reckless abandonment they embody as they throw their heroin needles on the ground and kneel in tears crying out to God is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in a conventional church setting. Maybe it’s because they have nothing else. Maybe it’s because they have to have Jesus. There is nothing else to fill the void in their hearts; they are desperate for a Saviour. I want that. I want that desperation for Jesus. I want to throw my pain and hurts on the ground and cry out to the Lord—fully aware that He is all I need, fully aware that I have nothing without Him.
I’m convinced God is calling us to be "homeless"—to not rely on any person, material thing, or earthly identity to define us, but to be rid of all that we put before Him. He is calling us to not hold tight onto our possessions as if they are our home, to not collect our scars as if they are our identity, and to not allow our baggage to weigh us down when God has something new for us. Our home is not here. Our home is far greater of a place than we can possibly imagine. And if we hope to be there—if we hope to recklessly worship God there one day—then we must know, all of our stuff: we can’t take it with us.
Let us be identified by our true home—it’s not here. Let us let go of the load we’ve been carrying—isn’t it heavy? If we want to walk down a road of healing & restoration, we can’t take our past with us—don’t we want to be empty enough for Him to fill us?
Let’s be rid of the old—so He can do a new thing.
Let's make room.