It was a small plate, gilded with gold and silver in the ancient Japanese art of Chokin. A Japanese pagoda sat in front of Mount Fuji with cherry blossoms on one side. I bought it in an antique shop for a few dollars on a trip to visit family in Texas. Not what most would consider a treasure, but I loved looking at it where it hung for years on the bathroom wall.
Then one misdirected flip of a shirt, and it hit the floor. It didn’t shatter, but a crack ran across it. The two pieces were held together only by the metal picture in the center, and an inch of the gold rim lay in chips and flakes across the floor. I cleaned it up, keeping all the pieces. I might be able to glue it back together, but it will never be the same.
But in the greater scheme of life, does it really matter that my lovely little plate is lovely no more?
There are no luggage racks on hearses, so why do we sometimes live our lives as though there were?
We put too much store in the material things of life. Jesus knew this was a fundamental human problem, and he warned us about it more than once.
When two brothers wanted him to settle an argument over the division of an inheritance, he told a parable about a rich man with a very successful business that brought in much more than he could ever use. Rather than share, he was going to stockpile it all for the future and party hearty in the present.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool!’ This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:20-21 (NIV)
I joke about taking a hammer to a new car to put the first dent in it. Then I won’t be angry at someone when they slam their door into it in the parking lot. I want to take proper care of my things and enjoy them while I have them, but I don’t want to be owned by them or think they are more important than they really are.
The things we love are only things. Rust and rot will take it all in the end, but spiritual treasure will last for eternity.
Do the things you own sometimes own you? How do you refocus on the real treasures in life when that happens?