I have eye-opening experiences in odd places. I want to tell you about one that took place a few years ago at a house on 80th Street in Lubbock, a few houses away from where we used to live. Our former neighbors were having an estate sale, and I have to confess, I’m a sucker. So I strolled down to take it all in. The sale was professionally managed, well organized, and quite thorough. They were selling what appeared to be everything that wasn’t bolted to the walls or floor.
Like most estate sales, this was a trip back in time. And somewhere amid the 8-track tapes, 70s-era stereo, and the costume jewelry, it happened. Somewhere in my own mind, I was standing in the middle of my own estate sale. Watching crowds of strangers pick over my treasures that, over the years, I had spent tens of thousands of dollars on. Seeing them bargain with somebody over curtains or books or something – for dimes on the dollar, of course. “Dear God,” I half-exclaimed and half-prayed, “tell me there’s more to my life than old stuff to be bartered over!”
As I continued to wander through the house, I could identify with the fun and excitement of this family as they had purchased that new appliance, received that special Christmas gift, or took advantage of those today-only prices and sales. In so many ways, this was a typical American family. Nice house. Nice stuff, albeit touched by time. And now all of it was being left behind.
It’s bad etiquette, I suppose, to actually ask about the people whose possessions we’re pilfering through. Are they still living? Do they have family? Could I be standing next to their daughter or niece? But I couldn’t help but wonder. As I stood in what once was their home, I felt sure I was looking at a poor reflection of who these people really were.
I was right. “A person’s true life,” said Jesus, “is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be” (Luke 12:15, TEV).
So follow me here:
If I’m not my stuff,
and I can get in trouble by craving more stuff,
but God is the source of all stuff,
then why does God let me have all this stuff?
So that I can learn where the real wealth is. So I can learn to use things and love people, not vice-versa. So I can experience God! In the midst of (or lack of) the stuff! And so that I can learn, as every generation has, that you can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.
Let’s look at your life with the end in mind. Here’s a question I got from Randy Alcorn:
Five minutes after you have died, what will you wish you had done differently with your money?
Now, spend the rest of your life closing the gap between what you have done with it, and what you will wish you had done with it.
I’ll join you.
And when they’re haggling over what’s left of the stuff at our estate sales, we’ll be enjoying true riches.