Last night, on my way to church, I passed a new indoor storage facility, the type where people can rent individual storage units. I admit, my original thought was, Wow, just what we need, another self-storage unit.
Immediately, I began recounting all the storage facilities we have here in our fair city. Just from my quick count, I thought of close to ten of the outdoor variety. Then, I added in the numbers of the newer kind of indoor, more secure variety. One of those newbies even has multiple stories.
My mind began to calculate the number of citizens here versus the obviously large amount of storage units, and I really became more perplexed. Do all of our 40,000 residents need an extra storage facility outside their homes? Seriously? Do we have that much stuff we need to store?
I tried to put that thought out of my mind; but I pondered it on and off during the remainder of the night, and I researched storage unit statistics this morning. Wow! I learned some interesting (and quite shocking) statistics.
According to statistics produced earlier this year by the U.S. self-storage industry with data provided by Self-Storage Almanac and the Self Storage Association, America is home to approximately 50,000 self-storage facilities, offering almost two billion square feet of storage space. That is an average of 1000 facilities per state, and I am sure our city has the majority of Mississippi’s facilities right here in Tupelo.
In the last 13 years, this industry has more than quadrupled its revenue. On average, the self-storage business is now a $38 billion industry, providing more than 170,000 people jobs. And with the average monthly cost of a storage unit running around $90, it is unbelievable to think that Americans could be spending thousands of dollars each year to store their stuff.
Ponder the fact that our grandparents and great-grandparents probably never made much more than that amount of money in a year, and really did not need extra storage space.
Then, contemplate the salaries that people in third world nations make even now. Annually, Americans spend more on storing out stuff, our excess than most of the world’s population makes per year.
As I think about this American self-storage phenomenon, first, I am so grateful to God for our blessings and prosperity. God truly deserves our thankfulness. And to be honest, I am sitting here thinking about my own family storage unit. Yep, I have one. We got it when our church began to do mission trips and we started gathering items for bi-annual yard sales to fund the ministries we support in Nicaragua.
But, to be honest, it has morphed into a mess. We store any and everything we are not using but just cannot seem to part with. And every time I go look inside it, I promise myself that next time I will clean it out. But, here I am, confessing my sin to the world.
And all of this brings me back around to the new self-storage business on my side of town.
Last night, it was all ablaze with twinkling Christmas lights and a brand new sign, welcoming customers who will most definitely need a space to store those Christmas decorations once they come down. Plus, where will we all put the tons of new goodies and gadgets we get from family, friends, and Santa?
Why, the new, climate-controlled self-storage facility down the street, of course!
How absolutely convenient. We will only need to box up all the Christmas décor, plus the stuff we got last Christmas, in order to make room for the new presents. Then, we will be ready to roll until next Christmas. And all for only $89.99 per month. And if we rent now, the first month of 2020 is free.
Now, let me say that there is nothing wrong with prosperity and nice, new things.
In fact, I believe it was a group of wise men from afar who brought our newborn Savior and his parents several amazing, expensive gifts to celebrate His birth. And I would imagine that their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were gratefully accepted and used by Mary and Joseph to raise and care for the King of Kings as he grew into manhood.
But as I ponder our new neighborhood storage facility, I can’t help but think that maybe our stuff could also be used to gift and prosper others in need. Maybe we do not have gold or expensive spices to offer the new mother in our church, but I bet we have lots of stuff (both old and new) that we could gift her. And what about the elderly in our local nursing homes? Many of them would love a visit and a gift or two. Some of them have no family and no visitors, ever.
Those are just two quick ways that came to my mind as I thought of people who might enjoy some of our abundance and overflow. But if we look around us, really look, we can find plenty of people in need. But to help them, we may have to stop and rearrange our priorities. I know that I will have to!
So, the new storage facility is going to be my Ebenezer, my stone of remembrance, for this year. Every time I pass by, I will remind myself to look for realistic, useful ways to share my abundance and overflow with those around me. I will not store up all God’s goodness for myself; it is too amazing to hoard and store. In 2020, I vow to share His love and blessings with anyone and everyone I can.
And yes, I vow to clean out my storage shed!
(Consider Luke 12:16-21.)