“This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” – 1 John 2:17
I was listening to the radio yesterday while I was painting the bedroom and a story came on about Donald Parrish, the number one ranked traveler on the Most Traveled People list. Not only has Donald visited all 193 UN member states, Parrish has been to almost every geographic subdivision in every major country: all 50 US states; 27 regions of France; 32 Chinese provinces; 83 Russian political subdivisions; 28 Indian states; 23 Argentine provinces; 16 German Länder; 20 regions of Italy; all 19 autonomous communities in Spain, and more. This guy is definitely not a homebody.
I don’t know what Donald did before he retired, but he says he’s not rich. To prove the point he points to a 15-year-old Acura with more than 140,000 miles on it. “Some people spend their money on nice clothes and fancy cars,” he said. “I spend my money on travel.” The radio story ended by saying Donald doesn’t spend his money on souvenirs, either, for then he’d have to buy a house to hold all his stuff.
At that point I went into the other room and started writing down some notes and wondering about the timing of God.
I’ve been teaching a series in my church on 1 John and I just finished my fifth installment called, “Falling Out Of Love” (1 John 2:12-17). One of my points is that we must fall out of love with the things of this world because this world is fading away along with everything that people crave. So this idea is on my mind when I hear that Parrish doesn’t buy souvenirs because then he’d have to buy a house to store them.
So here’s what’s bothering me and I share it with you: In what ways are we obsessing over and spending money on things we can’t take home? Not the home we live in; the home we’re going to. Heb. 11:13 says we’re strangers and pilgrims on earth. Heb. 13:14 reminds us “this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” So why is it we spend so much time desiring things that will not last?
I’m not saying that “things” in this world are all useless. I’m very grateful for clean socks, a comfortable bed, coffee pots, cell phones and a jacket in the winter. I spend hours in our flower garden and, as mentioned above, paint bedrooms that I know I won’t always own. I guess the main question I need to ask myself is, “Am I putting as much time into my heavenly dwelling as I am in storing up treasures on earth?” I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of books on my shelves that I will never read again. I’ve got clothes in my closets I haven’t worn in years. I’ve got drawers stuffed with mementos of things I can hardly remember. And I’ve got a house to hold all the souvenirs of the places I’ve been, whether its college thirty years ago or the used book store last week.
I want to be remembered for my character, not for my collections. I don’t need any more souvenirs, and I don’t need a bigger house to store more unused stuff. When I hear God say “Well done!” I want it to be for my ability to obey His will rather than my obsession over things I think I must have. I need to spend more time concentrating on pleasing God than I do collecting one more knick-knack that will sit on a shelf, gather dust and one day fade away.
That’s where I’m at today. How about you?