Stewardship

Buried Alive

Blog_BuriedAliveI don’t want to be buried alive. And I would guess if a survey were taken on the ways people least want to die, being buried alive would top the charts. Yet quietly, imperceptibly, it’s happening. Here. Now. In our own homes. Each day, we are suffocating unaware.

Who is the evil perpetrator seeking to steal our lives?

If a crime scene investigation series were devoted to finding the villain behind the madness, it would take the slyest of sleuths to crack the case—because the antagonist is among the least noticed and most unsuspected, and so much the object of our affections that we would never believe it a silent killer.

Are you in suspense wondering who the evil nemesis could be? Let me ease your curiosity. It’s…our stuff.

That’s right. Our stuff. Stop and think back to the moment you first noticed your lifeblood draining, your strength failing. It may have been in the midst of that endless succession of phone calls to customer service trying to resolve an issue with that “thing” once so needed. It may have been the last time you attempted to organize your basement or garage into some semblance of sanity. Or maybe it was when you walked by your teen’s bedroom and found them them swallowed alive by electronic gadgets as the slow-dawning realization came upon you…that a significant chunk of your labor was spent to pay for those gadgets now stealing your child away.

Yes, we need things for daily life, but when those things start to devour our life, it gets dangerous. Our precious time is spent working for, purchasing, cleaning, maintaining, refurbishing, storing, organizing, and getting rid of…things. We work extra hours, spend time away from family, all so we can have stuff we think we need, only to realize this stuff has robbed us of what we need even more.

I don’t want to come to the end of my life and regret that my time was spent on things that gather dust. I don’t want to waste my breath on things that rot, or my labor on that which can be burned in the fire. There is an allure to the temporary: it comes cloaked in light only to steal our lives. God, help us…that we do not fall victim.

“There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (MSG)

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Gone in an Instant

Tornado Aftermath from Google ImagesThe camera panned in as the funnel cloud tore through the subdivision across the street. I don’t know what the neighbor was thinking, standing by her window, videotaping the storm outside her door. Her hand was so steady, her voice so calm. If it were me, I’d be running for cover, even with the funnel cloud moving the opposite direction. But she seemed oblivious to imminent danger.

It must have been surreal, watching the world as she knew it come crumbling down before her eyes. Did she fear for her own life? Her own family? Her own house and things?

This tornado hit down about an hour from where I live—closer to home than any twister yet. For the woman behind the camera, it was inches away. Did the reality hit her as hard as it hit those across the street?

We see videos of hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, or tornadoes and are struck with the horror that faces the victims along with the fleeting thought of what if it happened to me? The thought washes away as quickly as the storm as we return to our daily lives. Are we ever sufficiently gripped with the reality that much of what we labor for could be gone in an instant? Can we honestly say what we invest our time, energy, and resources in is worth it if it can be so easily be destroyed?

I once watched a video of the Indonesian tsunami’s aftermath, and was taken by all the stuff floating through the water—stuff people had once invested their lives in…gone. More recently, I spoke with a woman who lost everything but her family to a fire. All she and her husband labored for…ashes and soot.

How easily we convince ourselves that material things are worthy of our labor, while the important things slip away unnoticed until tragedy strikes. The storms are ever closer, bidding us to open our eyes. Live for what’s important. Live for what truly matters. Live for what lasts. Don’t waste precious minutes fretting for that which is destined to fade. Stop. Now. Consider what’s truly worth living for.

“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)

Not Quite Generous

Giving Love from Bing ImagesI was wondering why my baby boy was going through food so quickly while the puppy was getting so chubby. So when they thought I wasn’t watching, I spied on them and discovered the baby was feeding the puppy his extra food. It seems they had an unspoken food-sharing agreement going on behind my back. Whenever the baby had an abundance of food, he was more than happy to share with the puppy. But when I gave him only a couple bites at a time, he was a little more stingy with his offerings—much to the puppy’s dismay.

It’s easy to give when we have abundance. Our local newspaper runs an annual tally of the nation’s most generous people. Usually those featured are the wealthiest among us. It’s a noble thing, to give. But is giving truly generous when it comes only from abundance? If there’s no sacrifice, is it generosity at all?

I’ve heard it said that generosity is not measured by how much a person gives, but by what percentage, and what’s left over after the giving. It’s admirable that a millionaire gives a big chunk of their income to charity, but it’s not so hard to do when there’s mansions, vacation homes, luxury cars, and an infinite supply of gourmet food waiting when the giving’s done.

The more interesting newspaper article would be…who lives on the least so they could give the most? Of course, this article wouldn’t exist, because sacrificial giving is most often matched with genuine humility. When giving is self-serving—to draw attention to self and to inflate an image of nobility, it is not generosity but selfishness in disguise.

Lord, I pray you’d give me a truly generous heart—that I would give even when it’s hard and when it hurts. Let me give abundantly and sacrificially, with humility. I don’t want my giving to be self-serving, but to come from a heart of genuine love for others.

True Love…is GENEROUS (Day 39, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)