My mother’s talent as an interior decorator was on full display in her Florida home. Orchids and art work, antique side chairs and floral love seats, coffee table books and ash trays – all were placed just-so. Her home was stunning. Yet when my mother passed away, Sotheby’s swooped in and itemized each of her cherished possessions on a stark spreadsheet – valuing it all, even the antiques, at pennies on the dollar.
It’s likely that when we die, no one will actually want our stuff. And here in Naples, Florida, home to the aging baby boomer, this is especially apparent.
Driving on Tamiani Trail, a major north-south route, one notices a glut of consignment stores and high-end thrift shops. This is where our precious stuff ends up. And that’s if we’re lucky – most will get carted off to Goodwill. People want NEW stuff; older pieces must be discounted to a fraction of their original cost in order to compete.
Now there’s nothing wrong with creating a beautiful space. The problem arises when stuff becomes our focus, our void-filler, our source of pleasure. Because some day, some inevitable day, it’s all headed to the consignment store or Goodwill.
John Ortberg likens this reality to playing Monopoly. Growing up, he often played Monopoly with his grandmother who lived with them. She was a lovely woman, he says, but she was ruthless at Monopoly and routinely beat him. Finally, at age 10, he spent a summer playing the game with a friend, and he learned the secret to winning – that it was all about amassing land and money.
That fall he finally beat his grandmother for the first time, hoarding the land, the hotels, the cash – taking his grandmother’s last dollar. After her defeat, he says he asked if they could preserve the board. Maybe forever. But his grandma had one more lesson to teach him. “When the game ends – and it always ends,” she said. “It all goes back in the box.” All the red hotels, all the lovely cash, all the property titles.
All our stuff.
Ortberg urges us to keep the end in mind as we go through our short life. To remember what is temporary, and to strive to invest in what is eternal – namely, God and people.
Psalm 90:12 says, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36
So how do we number our days?
By giving thanks for what we have, knowing it is a gift from God – on loan. We are mere stewards.
By investing in people. Praying for them. Visiting them in nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, Habitat for Humanity work sites, or simply in our neighborhood.
Remembering that it all goes back in the box.
Or if we’re lucky, to a consignment store…
Today’s Takeaway –
January 25 gave us a tragic reminder of life’s brevity – the sudden taking of Kobe Bryant and his sweet daughter.
All we have is today to invest in that which matters.
As always, enjoy the ride
xox Barclay & Joy