[Originally published in Fort Bend Herald]
It seems we all have pursuits in our lives which honestly are of no measurable eternal consequence. Simply put, we collect things that we perceive to enrich our lives in some tangible way, but that will most certainly be left behind for others to fight over when we depart from this Earth. From the time of our first job a wish list is started of things that we will pursue and draw satisfaction from owning, using and maintaining; with the latter being the most difficult commitment of product ownership of all.
The fleeting nature of “stuff” has been recently illustrated to me through a classic Robalo boat. I’ve been around boats all my life and from young adulthood have continually either pursued or endured boat ownership. My current claim is a twenty five year old vessel that has truly surprised me with its quality, durability – and constant upkeep.
Being a salt water boat, rust is a constant enemy. I recently acquired and rebuilt a trailer to haul the thing around at great expense of both finance and time invested. That trailer has now been to the water three times and is already showing that faint, tell-tale sign of fresh rust on the springs, which I coated exceptionally well in a rust-blocking agent. The clock is ticking. I have three years before redoing the suspension.
If the trailer were the only maintenance concern I would probably gain two years of livelihood by the end. But, the fact is that every single portion of this blessed mission of mine deteriorates with a vengeance. Trailer lights are rewired every few years due to salt water infiltration destroying the copper wiring. The exterior of the boat must be regularly deoxidized, waxed and repaired from sun damage, nicks and scrapes. The gauges take turns in monthly increments giving up the ghost while the engine could write its own factory service manual at this point. The simple fact is, I actually plan out – to the best of my entirely ignorant reckoning – what I expect to break next and how I will have the funding, time and knowledge to repair it when it does. If I were not a bit of a masochist, actually enjoying my labors on this eternal project of a possession, I might be inclined to let her win quickly and just sink her to the bottom of the ocean.
It is no wonder to me that Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
There exist irreconcilable differences between every atom in this created universe and our own eternal nature and calling. As it has wisely been stated, “you can’t take it with you,” we might also consider the question, “why would we want to?” The scriptures teach us that we who are in Christ will one day be resurrected to new bodies, impervious to degradation or death. We will be ushered into an eternal dwelling place likewise equipped with interminable wealth requiring no maintenance whatsoever. Until then, Jesus informs us that we have the privilege of storing up true treasure for that day.
When the gospel is shared, eternal treasure is built. When we serve others in Christ’s name, every hour spent yields countless benefit compared to beating our heads against our temporal projects. How ironic that so often we find ourselves serving our Lord in ministry capacities only if we perceive ourselves “to have the time” from our pursuit of fretting over that which perishes. May we rather pursue first that which is eternally rewarding, and only then “if we have time” turn our attention to that which we bother to hang onto for a little while. (Mat 6:33) May our desires be to keep those things – and our true treasure – in their proper perspectives. The stuff we can take with us is all that will matter on that day – even while others haggle over the remnants of our rotting possessions left behind.