It was a great day to take a load to the dump.
The garage was gorged with an incredible collection of broken or otherwise disgraced items whose useful life had long past—that is, except for a few boxes of memorabilia that I had been collecting for about 35 years. Yes, you read that right. 35 years.
The contents of these boxes were a passionate part of my life. I moved them from house—to apartment—to townhouse—to storage—to another townhouse—and finally, to our current house. And then I moved them from the garage—to my office—to my bedroom—to my closet—and back to the garage again.
This was “good” stuff! “Valuable stuff” (a.k.a “junk” to normal people) that I could certainly sell—to the right person. But I could not find the time to find the right people to sell it to. (Some items were not even on Ebay, and what was on Ebay was priced so low it wasn’t worth my time trying to sell it). The sad reality was hitting home. I had to do the unthinkable. Remember the Disney classic, “Old Yeller”? The dog had to be shot. Time and space had run out. My memorabilia had to be taken to the dump.
As I backed the van up to the cavernous dumpster below, the usual anticipation of delight and jubilation that came from unceremoniously throwing junk away was, on this occasion, far from me. It was a sad moment. I quickly threw it all in. I noticed that its final resting place was a pile of old siding. I closed my eyes as I walked past it before climbing back into the van to drive away.
“You have a better joy”
Just as I was about to start the van, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me: “Eric, you have a much better joy”. It was that still, quiet voice and it brought me a tremendous shot of joy to be reminded that what I already had which was of inestimable worth could never be taken away or thrown in a dumpster. Perhaps it sounds a bit corny but it was a very powerful moment for me.
In a materialistic culture such as ours, stuff (even relatively worthless stuff) has a dramatic pull on us. This is not a new phenomenon. I’m thinking of the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-33) who walked away from Jesus without eternal life because his life was in his possessions. Then there’s the cable show, “Hoarders” that chronicles the lives of people whose lives have been completely controlled by their stuff. Most of us are not hoarders but the heart condition is the same. We find a lot of joy and security in our stuff. We can even measure our well-being by how much stuff we have.
Certainly, finding joy in material things is not in itself sin. God blessed Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with tremendous possessions. Owning all that memorabilia was not a sin for me. But it needed to go and I really didn’t want to get rid of it. Often, in the hustle and bustle of life, without really knowing it, the flesh overtakes our hearts, and when it does, we are easily controlled by our stuff—either its presence, fear of its absence, or our drives to get more. Our emotions get involved and we discover that our stuff has become an idol.
Hebrews 10:34 says that the Christians “joyfully accepted” the plundering of their property. Why?
Because they had “a better possession, an abiding one”. How could this be? Simple. Jesus meant more
to them than their possessions.
Do You Know Someone Who is Too Attached to Stuff?
Perhaps you, your spouse, or a child are strongly driven to acquire or hold onto—stuff. Perhaps this strong drive causes personal discontentment or even arguments? Beginning to focus more intently on the riches we have in Jesus (Ephesians 1-3, Gal. 5:22) will help address those struggles.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the old chorus, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” This really is true and it helps us in our seediest and sometimes silliest moments. But what is life but a collection of seedy, silly moments?
The question is, is Jesus really our constant source of joy or just one of many things in which we find joy from time to time?