I suspect that there are quite a lot of youngsters like myself who for the most part is flatting with strangers, away from family and home.
I started flatting straight from my first year of university and now it seems like a lifestyle that has become the norm for me; moving from flat to flat every year or so, getting acquainted with new flatmates, befriending them and so on.
I’m moving to a new flat again next week and I had another massive pack up session for my move. Upon countless hours of hard work, I thought to myself, “Jeez! I mean, I knew I was going to be moving out from this flat, but why did I even bother getting so much stuff that aren’t really essential?”
Of course, it wasn’t the first time I realised this. In fact, I realise it every time I move. In spite of my constant efforts to keep things to a minimum, it seems as though I always fail at this seemingly simple task.
True sojourners keep things to a minimum
The bible describes the Christian life as a sojourning life. It constantly emphasises that we are not citizens of this world but of heaven (Philippians chapter 3, verse 20).
As citizens of heaven, we are only temporarily sojourning here – just like how I am ‘temporarily’ staying in my flat and one day I will visit my parents’ house which I call ‘home’ or ‘settle down’ eventually as I start my own family. Bearing this in mind, I try not to accumulate too much things into my flat.
Of course, it would be fabulous if I could have a decent-sized television in my room, but as a ‘flatter’, I am content with a small iPad screen. It would be great if I could get a bigger desk so that I can have much more space when doing my work at home, but a small desk that just fits my desktop will do for now.
More things simply mean it will be more difficult when I’m moving out again. I learn my lessons – at least, mentally!
Learn from the real sojourn masters – the Mongols
This might sound strange, but whenever I hear the word ‘sojourner’, I am reminded of a Mongolian herdsman. Mongol nomads have become an illustrative synonym for me whenever I think about this word, knowing that they live a very simple life. They keep things to a minimum as they need to move around quite frequently in order to feed their flocks and herds.
Our Christian life here on this earth should resemble that of a Mongol nomad. No Mongol would start decorating his tent with hip furniture and lightings from IKEA. No Mongol would get plants and gardening tools from Bunnings Warehouse and start working on a fancy front yard which they will have to abandon after a short time.
Sojourners are supposed to live a simple life, getting rid of all unnecessary things and keeping things to a minimum. This, however, is easier said than done.
Just as easily as I accumulate stuff and regret when it’s time to move again, we as Christian-sojourners forget too often of how we should not focus on how we can make our lives better here and now.
Thus, it is important to always remind ourselves to put on the ‘eternal perspective’ – perspective of the Kingdom, God’s will and His glory. Much time spent on ‘settling down’ in this world is like a foolish Mongol who is trying to ‘settle down’ with their meaningless decorations.
The IKEA and Bunnings products may manifest differently in our individual lives, but whatever your IKEA and Bunnings products are, don’t be a fool and stop investing your time, effort and resources in futility.
Let’s learn from our Mongol sojourners, let’s stop decorating our tent.
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.