My husband, Jim, cherished vehicles—Mustangs particularly. For years, a small matchbox sufficed for the true factor. When a monetary windfall got here our means, he purchased his dream: a deep crimson Mustang with a black convertible high.
The day we picked her up, Jim appeared like a 5-year-old ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. He dropped the cover whereas I looked for a Beatles station. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah . . .” remodeled that automobile right into a time-machine joyride. Jim drove his beloved treasure solely on weekends, since he needed her to final.
A 12 months later Jim took his Mustang to College Hospital, the place he died from issues after surgical procedure. I carried his garments and private gadgets again to his automotive, sat within the driver’s seat, and wept. We frequently say somebody who has died is with the Lord. I couldn’t comprehend what that meant. Jim and I put many completely happy miles on this automotive, however now, with out him, it wasn’t the identical.
Occupied with Pleasure
What does it imply for God to maintain us occupied with pleasure? Might it have one thing to do with our focus being on him and never our circumstances and treasures? The times of my life and the issues in it, God says, I gained’t keep in mind. However what a few Mustang?
I squeezed the steering wheel of Jim’s dream machine. The day we left the automotive vendor laughing collectively appeared like yesterday. I keep in mind. However Jim? For as a lot as he cherished his automotive, Jim wasn’t giving this candy trip a second’s thought. Nor the mahogany vintage sport desk he cherished. Ditto the framed set of Star Trek footage or every other precious-to-him-thing I would title.
The most effective of what this world has to supply isn’t made for our transition to eternity.
There’s Somebody he cherished extra, and Jim now stands in his presence. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” Jim Elliott mentioned. My husband’s automotive should now appear smaller than the matchbox reproduction he saved on his desk. The most effective of what this world has to supply isn’t made for our transition to eternity.
As Don Carson asks, “Is not some of the pain and sorrow in this life used in God’s providential hand to make us homesick for heaven, to detach us from this world, to prepare us for heaven, to draw our attention to himself, and away from the world of merely physical things?”
Issues Now Burdens
Jesus warned that “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). I knew that intellectually, however I now comprehend it experientially. As I appeared to downsize and relocate, my possessions had turn into burdens. So, I deliberate an property sale. Some family and friends thought I’d misplaced my thoughts:
“You aren’t selling your good China, are you?”
“How can you sell so many wonderful memories?”
“Please try and keep that desk in the family. I couldn’t bear the thought of it going to strangers.”
One pal, armed with a layman’s data of suicide and melancholy, requested, “Sometimes hurting people give away their treasures before ending their lives. I am concerned for you. Do you have a plan?”
“Yes.” I reached for a pocket book. “I’ve received several recommendations for estate planners along with their estimates. A small U-Haul will transport the few things I planned to take with me to my new home—on earth, of course.”
Relieved, she rolled her eyes, shook her head, and walked out the door.
When the purging materials issues craze hit the secular neighborhood, Marie Kondo entered the scene. Earlier than an merchandise is given or thrown away, she encourages her shoppers to thank the lifeless merchandise for its service. As I checked out a pile of almost-never-worn clothes on my mattress, I opted to ask the dwelling God for forgiveness.
Two weeks later, every little thing I owned had a price ticket on it—from leftover Fourth of July paper plates to the half-used bottle of shampoo within the visitor rest room. Even my rubbish was priced to promote. “You’d be surprised,” one property planner instructed me, “what people will buy.”
Amid the trash have been issues I did treasure—an attractive set of bookshelves my husband purchased me for an anniversary reward. The tag learn $100 for the set. John Piper places it strikingly:
The pleasures of this life and the needs for different issues—these should not evil in themselves. These should not vices. These are presents of God. They’re your fundamental meat and potatoes and occasional and gardening and studying and adorning and touring and investing and TV-watching and internet-surfing and procuring and exercising and amassing and speaking. And all of them can turn into lethal substitutes for God.
Worship the Giver
It may be tough to get pleasure from your materials blessings, with out making them idols. Pals helped me retailer the bookshelves and later introduced them to me. I can’t have a look at them now and never consider their kindness and God’s provision. Oh, that I might see every little thing I personal as presents from God and a purpose to offer him reward. Once we worship the reward, not the Giver, it’s akin to purchasing somebody’s rubbish. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).
Once we worship the reward, not the Giver, it’s akin to purchasing somebody’s rubbish.
My granddaughter typically clutches a toy so tightly, it’s onerous to coax her to let it go, even for one thing far higher. What’s the heavenly Father asking me to let go of that I would embrace extra of him, my true treasure?
It was sobering to witness Jim go away behind each materials factor we owned. At some point, I’ll do the identical. What’s going to my true treasure be then? I pray I would heed Elliot’s exhortation: “When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.”