I went camping on the Little Susitna River on Thursday night, and during the day Friday, July 2 and 3. It was a very relaxing get away. I visited a favorite fishing hole, did a little fishing, cooked a few meals, and finished a book I was reading, Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas. Most who know me will think that I primarily fished on this trip. Actually, I sat in my chair relaxing, reading, and sometimes talking to the groups that passed me in canoes and kayaks. Right after the last of these groups paddled by I went to stand up from my sitting position, but I had an unpleasant surprise. The fabric in my chair tore. The more I attempted to rise, the deeper into the chair I sank. It was embarrassing. Thankfully, none of the groups that passed saw me in this position. But, it happened nonetheless. And the chair I had enjoyed was broken beyond repair.
That is not the only thing I own that has broken recently. As I looked at my boat trailer recently, I noticed that one of the supports on my trailer was disconnected – the weld had broken. And, as I went to store last year’s taxes in the crawl space of my home I found water down in that section of the crawl space. Add that repair work to two faucets that have been dripping and needed repair. I could go on and on, but I have recently been fixing and repairing things frequently.
Do you have the same frustrations? Are you disappointed when something you plan to use no longer works?
There are some lessons here. First, the THINGS of this life are temporal. Jesus taught His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, 19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) The moths may have had a part in the weakening of the fabric in my chair. But, I have been using it for 9 years. Nothing lasts forever, at least that is what Jesus was teaching. The possessions of this life slip through our fingers like the water from the river.
There is a reason that our possessions wear out, that they rust and break. In a very real way all of life is “broken.” From the beginning, when people rebelled against our Creator, following their own desires, and disobeying the Lord and Ruler of the Universe, we all live under the curse of sin. So our relationship with God is broken. Our relationships with other people also suffers. Even our best efforts to build our world fail. For example, our country’s Declaration of Independence may state the principle and belief that “all men are created equal.” But, even trying to put that truth into action, our efforts fall short. Our lives are broken.
Another lesson we all need to learn is that we can think we own our possessions, but in a way, our possessions own us. Every chair, every boat, every home, every possession requires time and energy and money in upkeep. They have to be maintained. So, do we own our homes, or do they own us? The same is true for other things we own.
However, there are some treasures in this life which give eternal blessings. Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 24, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.: (Matthew 24:35 ) Our world is broken, but some things remain forever – God’s things. The word of God is a treasure we need to cherish, to use, to digest.
St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) We cannot bring our possessions with us when we die. But, faith in God, hope for eternity, and love last forever. Faith, hope, and love, are treasures that will not fade.
St. Paul also writes that amidst the brokenness of this life, there is one thing that can’t be taken way, God’s love for us in Jesus. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Cloth may tear. Iron may rust. Possessions may break. But nothing can take away the love God has given us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Falling through the chair was an embarrassing experience, but I also had 2 pleasant surprises. Gary Foster of “Fosters’ Fine Finishes” built my house in 2006. I asked Gary to look at the source of the water in my crawl space. Gary found the problem and fixed it. I offered to pay Gary, but he said, “No.” Gary Feaster of Greatland Welding built my boat and trailer in 2010. Gary repaired the trailer. When I asked Gary what I owed for the work, he said, “It’s our boat, we’ll take care of it.” In today’s world you don’t expect to have people stand behind their work 10 years, or 14 years later. These men are fellow believers in Jesus and they live their faith. They know about the blessings that do not pass away, and show it in their lives.
I threw my old chair away and bought a new one. But the eternal blessings of God, His Word, faith, hope and love, especially our Lord’s love for us in Jesus, will not break. We can build our lives on the love and blessings of God.