To Be Left Wanting

A few months ago, I pulled all my clothes out  of closets and dressers, from plastic tubs in the basement, and pared down my wardrobe to a meager few items. Of course “meager” is relative: I was aiming for about 15 to 20 and ended up with nearly 100.

With my handful of garments, I easily still dress for home, work, church, meetings, even the gym. I have enough of everything—even with just one pair of jeans and four layering T-shirts. I’m happy with my simplification. I like how quickly I can put away laundry.

But somehow, I still want more.

“There are three things that will not be satisfied,” Agur wrote in Proverbs 30, “four that will not say, ‘Enough’” (Prov. 30:15). Although I’m uncomfortable being listed among Sheol, barren wombs, parched earth, and fire, I can think of a fifth item to add to his list: a woman’s closet. Or at least this woman’s closet. Even when what we desire is good, a soul bent on never enough leads to one thing: devastation.

God intends that His gifts—like the manna He provided in the desert—be received with gratitude. But when we hoard those gifts by gathering more than we need or holding on to them for later, two things happen. First, it ruins the gift. Just as the Israelites’ stockpiled manna turned foul (Ex. 16:20), our excess becomes wasteful. Second, it ruins us. Even though God told the Israelites the manna would reveal His glory, they took the abundance for granted. They traded glory for grumbling, and their hearts grew hard.

Some days I find myself grousing about having “nothing to wear,” though I did the same with a wardrobe three times as large. Mostly, I am learning that too much of even a good thing can harm me spiritually, leading me down the trail of discontentment. So now I ask God to keep me from both poverty and riches, “that I not be full and deny You … or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:9). In the balance of having needs met but wants resisted, I see God’s hand and heart in my life in new ways—and a small glimpse of His glory.


Illustration by Jeff Gregory

Related Topics:  Humility

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What happens to my notes

15 The leech has two daughters, Give," Give." There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, Enough":

20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.

9 That I not be full and deny You and say, Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

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