September 19: I Found Jesus at a Garage Sale

I talked to a guy named Eagle about a stove today.

We proceeded to have a rather interesting conversation about home repairs (his occupation), supplies and cars being burglarized (his experiences), garages (his very large one), and the right (again, his) to carry arms and hold home invaders at gunpoint and tell said burglars that next time the phone call would be to the coroner instead of the police. Perhaps the word "conversation" was the wrong choice…

So I gave him a really good deal on the stove.

Being on the selling side of a garage sale is completely different then being on the buying side. It's not only a lot of work for the seller to round everything up, haul it out, set it up, price it and make it look appealing, but you're at quite a disadvantage financially. Putting up a garage sale sign is the equivalent of saying to the general public: "Come pay us money for our useless crap that we would otherwise donate to charity or put on the curb… for free."

And experienced garage salers know this. Heck, everybody probably knows this.

And the only reason that we intelligent sellers continue to go through the charade is for exactly the same reason--to make a couple bucks from our used and now useless items. Beggars can't be choosers, so sadly, we have to take what we can get. We are at the mercy of the buyers, who are usually as shrewd as they are quirky. If their items total $8.75 and they hand you $9.00, you will never hear "keep the change." Every quarter counts, and you better believe they'll be wanting theirs back.

One by one as the items get snatched up and leave for $0.50, a dollar or two, $5 here and there if you're really lucky, the disparity between what you paid for them and what they're "worth" now becomes glaringly clear, and depressing. I learned that difficult lesson at my garage sale last year when I tried to sell a big, colorful, modern framed print that I'd bought from Target for $98. I thought I liked the modern look and was committed to decorating our house that way, so I "invested" in this nice print to tie the living room together. I also bought a colorful, abstract area rug for well over $200 to go with it.

And then I changed my mind.

I realized that the vintage, unique feel of Shabby Chic-like decor was more "me," so we decided to sell our gently used but still in good condition modern decor items. The area rug sold for a mere $25 after some negotiating, and I couldn't get anyone to buy the print for even $5. One lady tried but it wouldn't fit in her car. So she offered an apology and wanted a refund. We ended up giving it away.

Ouch. Expensive mistake.

And then there are items that we did like and used for a time but have no need for anymore, like a nice set of curtains from Target that matched the carpet in our old house. Easily $25 a panel at the store, I tried to sell them both for $20 at the garage sale today. I thought that was a steal. The woman replied, "$20?? Oh honey, not at a garage sale… That's too much. You're trying to get rid of stuff, you know? You gotta price it to sell. I got some yesterday at another sale and I only paid $0.50/panel. How about $5?"

For….both of them???

As I watched this and other items slip out of my fingers for a mere fraction of what I paid for them, and probably less then what they're worth, an inevitable sinking feeling accumulated in my gut. On one hand it's nice to get rid of things and clear out the clutter, but on the other hand, you really thought your stuff would be worth more… You hoped it would be worth more, because it was to you when you bought it. After all, you paid full price.

And I found myself wondering this afternoon, as my shallow heart sank once again over the depreciation of yet another material good, if the Lord ever feels the same way about us.

Is He ever saddened by the return on His investment? Does His heart ever sink when we sell out, when we chase idols, when we squander our potential instead of following Him? It must, because He knows we are worth more. We were made for more. You see, He paid full price, too. Not just full price, the ultimate price--it cost Him his very life.

His life for ours. For yours. For mine.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 
Romans 12:1

Our only reasonable response to this great sacrifice would be to do the same--a life for a life. Take your everyday, ordinary life and place it before God as an offering. And I don't know about you, but I fail at this Every. Single. Day. Sometimes every minute. But I'm thankful that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and that He's on my side. That His mercies are new every morning. And if the God of the Universe is for us, who can stand against us?? {Romans 8:31}

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth 
to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 
2 Chronicles 16:9