Destined for the landfill
In my family, there are a lot of car people. You know what I’m talking about, people who just love anything with wheels. They love looking at them, talking about them, buying and selling them, reading about them, tearing them apart and building them again. My boys have apparently gotten the car gene because they both notice cars often. My youngest son, Josh, who is now 10, can distinguish a 2010 Dodge Challenger from the 2014 model, and tell me all the differences between them. But recently it was my older son, Ryan, who noticed an old, rusted out, dilapidated BMW chugging down the freeway. His comment cut straight to the heart of the issue: “But I thought BMWs were supposed to be nice cars!?”
What a great opportunity to talk about the temporary nature of all the material things on this planet. That BMW was once very nice, fresh off the lot, the hottest thing on the road. The original owner probably drove it around the beach with the top down and Led Zeppelin blasting from the 8-track player. All the girls at the boardwalk on their roller skates with their big hair and their black Pink Floyd concert t-shirts turned their heads to see this cool guy with the cool car who obviously has money if he can afford a convertible Beemer. He was on top of the world. He had finally arrived. Fast forward 25 years and now he’s just hoping he’s going to arrive at home!
You see, everything we buy or build is eventually destined for the landfill. Sure, it can serve some wonderful purposes during its time in our lives, depending on how it’s used. But it’s fate is the same as that of the stone tools of the caveman or the ancient ships of Troy or even the vinyl Pink Floyd record album: decay. And what doesn’t decay won’t always belong to you. That house you’re pouring yourself into, you’re going to hand it off to someone else eventually. Same is true for your rifles, your fly rods, your ATV, your favorite bow hunting stand. Even the clothes you’re wearing won’t last long.
A couple years ago I drove up to Hot Creek near Mammoth Lakes, California with a few friends to cast flies at wary trout. We had been planning this trip for weeks and the day had finally arrived. After getting out of the Southern California chaos, the remaining six-hour drive was beautiful. And with each mile that ticked by on the odometer, our excitement got harder to contain.
It was early May and most of the streams in California had just opened for fishing. The eastern Sierra sky shone brilliant blue against the bright white of the snow-blanketed peaks and the deep green of the ponderosa pines. It was one of those days that makes you feel like you can do anything.
But as any stream fisherman knows, with May sunshine in the mountains comes muddy snowmelt, mucking up the rivers and making fly fishing nearly impossible. Of the four of us, only Allen caught anything – only one small trout among four fishermen on a world class trout stream. What a bummer.
But the biggest bummer was how Saturday ended. I had been sitting on Allen’s tailgate, talking with the guys, when I made a rookie mistake. I leaned my fly rod against the tailgate and walked around to the cab when I heard it close. I closed my eyes and prayed that someone saw my rod there and moved it. But when Allen came around to the front of the truck with a sheepish look on his face and asked, “We’re friends, right?”, I knew that rod was gone. When I got home, it went into the trash bin with the other garbage.
Jesus’ words are just as true today, maybe even truer, than they were 2,000 years ago (go back and re-read Matthew 6:19-20): what the moths and rust (i.e., natural decay processes) don’t destroy, thieves will take from you. And eventually, the moths and rust will take it from them.
Questions for thought
What treasures have you been storing up for yourself here on earth?
Beyond momentary happiness, what lasting joy have they brought you?
What would your life look like if you lost them?
Heavenly Father, free us from our addiction to stuff. Show us, Lord, that the things we chase after, the treasures we store up here on earth, are all temporary and will eventually succumb to decay or be taken from us. Search our hearts and find in us any greed, covetousness, and idolatry. Forgive us and change us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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