i suppose i wouldn’t be writing these if i didn’t think, at least on some level, they would be lessons worth learning for others also. that has been true for the previous lessons…and it will no doubt be true right now, also.
but this one will come with a warning.
number two: “don’t own anything you’re not willing to use, abuse, lose or loan.”
i don’t really have an explanation for this, but even when i was young, i never held on very tight to my stuff. definitely not a typical MO for an only child!
when i was ten years old, i gave away my bicycle…the new one my parents had recently bought for me…to a neighbor kid who always had less than i did. i remember how my dad had to go ask for it back and i’m pretty sure i had equal doses of his praise and punishment for my act of generosity.
at the end of our first year of marriage, when we were barely 22, wanda and i moved in as the residence hall directors of a small christian college. nobody warned us we would be the only ones in the dorms who owned tools and a first gen color television and kitchen appliances and a pickup truck. our personal stuff quickly became community stuff.
it wasn’t until later, that my relationship to the things i possessed began to flow from theology, instead of simply an expression of my lifestyle.
so here’s the warning: this is my take. this is my interpretation of god’s word. this is my response to the call of discipleship. not yours (necessarily). just mine.
i came to understand that nothing is really mine. i am a caretaker of what belongs to god. obviously, being a caretaker means that i use my money and possessions wisely. we are careful, but it is still his. and my obligation is to use what i have been given the same way he would use it if he were here.
that means if there is someone who needs it, i need to figure out how to give them the benefit of what i am taking care of. i know that’s what jesus would do. sometimes that means giving it away. sometimes that means loaning it. sometimes it means that i share it side by side (especially if someone is not particularly trustworthy). sometimes that means it might get used and abused. sometimes it may even get fully sacrificed in the transaction. and yes, there are times that i say “no”.
it’s a daily battle, but i refuse to be “owned” by anything in my possession. when i know that everything belongs to god, i cannot hold on tightly to it. you have no idea what kind of freedom there is in this knowledge!
i don’t ever want my heart to be in my earthly treasures. i don’t want to fall in love with money or what money can buy. that’s one of the reasons we have avoided buying top of the line anything. if it’s too good for me to let others use it, it’s too good for me. just sayin’…
at a really young age, we took the command to lay up treasures in heaven seriously. we’ve always had money to invest in important stuff…like people and kingdom priorities. there’s always been an open door at our house and everything in it. the same for our vehicles and tools and savings account.
(please don’t get your nose out of joint. i’m not saying the stuff i take care of for god can be used by anybody at any time. good stewards make wise decisions on behalf of the owner. i’m just saying that nothing is initially off-limits, simply because i earned it…i paid for it…and it’s too important to me to risk losing it.)
you need proof that god has a sense of humor? the only thing i have ever owned that i consciously said “nobody touches this but me”, was the baseball glove my father gave me when i was ten. it was a top-of-the-line, rawlings trap-eze glove…the 1964 equivalent of a $300 glove by today’s standards.
i played with it through little league, high school, and 25 years of softball. it was my prized possession.
it was stolen from a church league softball game eleven years ago. i’ve always mourned the loss. and will never forget the lesson.
and you can take this all for what it’s worth to you.
i bet you can’t wait for my #1 lesson. yeah. right.