For me, it was a little bit disconcerting seeing things that I had bought, used, cleaned, taken care of and would have been unhappy if they broke, on our church rummage sale table selling for a buck or two this past week.
We’ve been here in Ohio for just over three years now and we decided it was time that we dealt with all of those things we had stored from our previous house in Jersey and finally let go of them. I mean we hadn’t really looked at any of it for this whole time, what’s the point of keeping it around?! So, when we got back from vacation we bit the bullet, rented a U-Haul, sorted (not very well, because friends kept finding family photos on the rummage sale tables!), but eventually we dealt with it.
Mostly… because every so often, I was like, oh yeah, I remember that, I should keep that. But then I kept reminding myself that I hadn’t actually remembered that it existed for three years, I wasn’t breaking through the boxes trying to find it, did it really matter all that much to me?? Walk away from the rummage sale table Phil… But it was weird, it was like giving up a piece of my identity when I sold that precious coffee mug.
It’s strange how much anxiety our possessions can fill us with sometimes. It’s hard letting them go. We get upset when they break. We spend our hard earned money to possess them. They become a part of who we are. We get wrapped up in owning the things and we don’t realize when they start owning us. These possessions cause us so much time, energy and anxiety and for what, I’m not my favorite coffee cup and possessing my favorite coffee cup is not the goal or purpose of a human life.
Aren’t you looking for something better than that? I know I am.
Look at the flowers during the summer and how beautiful they are with all of their colors and shades and smells. But they didn’t spend one moment worrying about all of that and yet they are more beautiful than the shiniest sport’s car on the planet. Or the birds of the air with all of their colors and sounds and the simple joy of watching them fly and they don’t spend one moment worrying about the color of their feathers and they are more beautiful in their life and their song than all of the coffee cups at Starbucks. We worry and fret and get anxious about so much and so much of it doesn’t really matter. What will all of that anxiousness gain us, what will it buy? Will it add one moment to the length of our days, will that coffee cup make me a better human being? (Maybe with coffee in it!) Will it bring me joy or hope or peace or love. No, it can’t. So what are we doing? We’re looking for something better.
I sold My Pet Monster. One of the boxes we went through was all of my old childhood toys and in that box was My Pet Monster. Came out in the 80’s, this big blue stuffed animal with crazy orange hair and the big thing about it were these bright orange chains that when you pulled them, they broke in the middle. Hey, it was cool! So, there it was in our stuffed animal section in the corner and I kept eyeing it, saying to myself, “if no-one get’s it, I’m taking him back home with me!” Then this guy about my age, big guy with tats up and down his arms comes in all tough looking, spiky hair, walks around and says, “My Pet Monster, I had that when I was a kid!” You should of seen the smile on his face when he was talking about having this stuffed animal as a kid! It was awesome. $2 bucks, here you go, grinning from ear to ear.
I had a bunch of those kind of things pass through the doors. Each one of those possessions, including my pet monster, like for that guy, it wasn’t about the possessions but about the memories it brought back. But even more than the memories, the feelings of a better time maybe, or a safer time, or a happy moment, a precious person, feelings of warmth, security, love, happiness all wrapped up in that blue monster. But they are not in that blue monster, all it is, is stuffing and fuzz, no the blue monster represented something we are trying to find, trying to hold on too, something we are looking for, something better, something that won’t end.
What is it really that we are looking for, trying to hold onto when we hold onto possessions: love that doesn’t end, people that don’t lie, hope that is real, a future where we don’t say goodbye. We are looking for a better country, a place we can call our own, a heavenly country prepared for us to live in. We are looking for something better, we are hoping, we have faith.
But you can have all of the faith and hope in that something better but if that faith and hope is placed is something that cannot bring you there, what good is it? When I give to those things, those possessions more than they are, when we give to them our hope for something better, something we can hold onto and not let go, we will always be disappointed because these things are simply incapable of doing that. They can’t. Nor will abundance, nor will poverty. It’s not in them to give us that. They are here for a time, they come and go, they pass to someone else, none of it remains.
But what remains is the love of our God in Jesus Christ. What remains is the lasting security and joy of our God in Jesus Christ. What remains is the hope that never fails and blessed assurance of what God has prepared for us in Jesus Christ. We see this lasting hope, not filled with fuzz or stuffing, but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, our Jesus who lives and loves and cares for us even now. This is our God who has prepared all of this for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is what we are looking for.
Because all of what we are looking for is found in Jesus and in faith you are in Jesus and Jesus dwells within you through the Holy Spirit, so you are already complete, in Jesus you already have all that you are looking for. That is why Jesus teaches us to seek first Him and all of these things will be added. Not the shiny cars or the stuffed blue monsters will be added, no, because they are only temporary representations of what we are looking for are. Seeking and possessing anything else will always bring anxiety with it because anything else will go away. But seeking and being found, possessing the greatest treasure in Jesus will never bring anxiety with it because Jesus will never go away.
So how should we view all of those possessions around us in this life? Ever build a sandcastle?
I have, by mine are not very good, more like a sand hill with some squiggly lines in them. But my wife makes really good ones with towers, parapets, designs and everything. She takes some time working on them. But you and me both know what happens to sand castles, don’t we. They will always end up knocked down by the waves. That doesn’t take the fun out of building the sandcastle but you certainly don’t place your love, trust and hope in it, do you? The same can be said of possessions, they will all get knock down, sooner or later by the tide of time. Doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with them while they are here, but don’t love them, that’s for sure, they will go away. But it also gives a really good perspective on what we should spend our precious time on. Because I know sandcastles will not last, I might play with them sometimes but I don’t spend my life on them. I want to spend my life on what will last.
Jesus Christ is the only one that remains and what is built upon Jesus is built upon the rock that the tides of time cannot wash away. Play with the sandcastles but build your life and spend your time upon the Rock of Jesus.