“A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field’” (Isaiah 40:6).
Have you watched the television show “Storage Wars?” Episodes chronicle auctions of abandoned property in storage lockers to buyers who sift through the contents searching for treasure. Each week someone discovers great value in a purchased locker, but why unknown former owners would abandon property of value is never presented. I suppose the question goes unasked because the answer would point to misfortune befalling the original owner, unsettling a national television audience.
My business uses rented storage lockers and this past summer I spent two days in the August heat searching for records to satisfy the inquiries of a sales tax auditor. (We may in fact abandon these lockers someday, but they will not yield any treasures.) Wheezing around in the locker reminded me of the last time I cleaned our attic—something else I do not like to do. It’s dusty work, slow and tedious, and the search for value, let alone “memories,” is inconsistent.
My parents died almost twenty years ago, but I still recall sorting through their lives as collected in their “attic.” The evidence portrayed lives lived on an ordinary stage; if my parents had unrealized hopes and dreams, the fragments they left behind did not disclose them. In another generation no one will remember them in any meaningful way; of my children, only my son knew and loved my parents and although he carries their memories forward, whatever imprint of my parent’s lives to exist in the lives of my daughters now rests only in how their lives resonate in me.
Fleeing more swiftly than our precious lives are our livelihoods. Thirty years ago, employed as a CPA, I enjoyed my work and believed it had “value,” yet I metaphysically wondered was there really a purpose in it. Who would care years down the road about the work the firm was doing? Since the firm’s policy was to destroy audit work papers after passage of a statutory time, I was sadly and completely aware that even the physical evidence of my work would not last long.
Perhaps the author of Ecclesiastes had similar feelings in mind when he said, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is Meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
I read an article on the internet about a promising test that might detect Alzheimer’s disease many years in advance. The author speculated if such knowledge would be of interest to anyone. I know my answer: no. Adding the certainty of loss of mental acuity to a life’s accomplishments that are already specious seems to be insult to injury.
Five occupations later I still wonder if those who followed after me in my former jobs cared one hoot about the work I did.
Are we not all mere storage lockers whose contents will be claimed by others after we are gone?
God put the thought and desire of eternity into our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) in spite of our knowledge that death is inevitable and generally a surprise visitor. The thought of eternity is one of God’s greatest blessings, spurring us on to pursue hopes and dreams that fatalism would destroy. And since God is the author of “us,” pursuing our talents, hopes, and dreams is godly, worthy of God’s blessings even though we all know in the end what we have done in our life will not matter much to others.
But here’s the even greater blessing: we matter to God in ways unmeasured by our work and achievements.
I learned the other night that a boy in our area committed suicide. He was in high school. All I could think of was “for God’s sake, why?” Even now the news confronts me almost physically. In our Bible study group that night we discussed how God alone gives meaning to each of us and lamented that too little knowledge of God bars hurting people from solace and healing. Don’t miss those few words, “too little knowledge.” The God who saves us and who changes lives is won on faith to be sure, but gaining insight into our worth and precious beauty that work together to stay our hands from harm or pushes them out to others in love in hopes of reeling them in takes effort born of desire to know a God who would die for us.
God loved that young boy. God sees our hidden value—our value we think lost to misfortune or neglect and soon to become the profit of others, or “moth or rust.” Such knowledge is life changing and life saving.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Too many times I sit on my hands and choose not to speak of my Savior’s love. I don’t mean here, on a written page that some few people will read. And I don’t mean at church, either. No, I mean in the everyday walk of life where people interact with me filling their attics with mere existence while I do the same. Attic, after attic, after attic.
Yet God is always with me. Always. Dear God, loosen my lips to speak of your glory to others.
My friends in Christ, what we do matters to God. We matter to God.