"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21
How difficult is it to keep that scripture while living in a culture in which you are judged and evaluated primarily by the things that you own; the house you live in, the car you drive, the phone you make calls with (and can also do a million other things with, these days), the job you have, and an endless amount of other things. I'm going to start by talking about two dreams of mine, one which I have a difficult time seeing coming true, and another that I hope I will someday be able to do.
First, the one that seems rather unlikely at this point in my life, is to take however much money, clothes, and a couple other things that mean a lot to me - no more than can fit in a backpack - and just kinda take off; wander around like a nomad. It would be cool to do this and stay at friends' houses that I know across the country, but I think what would be even cooler is to meet new people and live with them for a while. Obviously not sketchy people... But like, make some kind of deal where I run errands for them, do some household chores for them and stuff, and they give me a roof and some food. And we just hang out, get to know eachother, and eventually part ways with a cool memory. There would obviously be a very rare circumstance where this could happen, but I don't know, I just think it would be so cool. To go somewhere random, meet and rely on random people, while being able to live a simple life where I can relax and serve. It would just be great...
Secondly, and this one is something that I feel rather strongly about, is to end my life with nothing. By this I mean in the sense of material possessions. Almost so much that I wouldn't even need a will. My dream is to get to a point where I grow old with my wife, life in a small little house, wherever it may be, and live as simply as possible. All my possessions being given away or donated to people I care about or who need them more than I do. Because it would lead to a place where, when I look at what I have, I could only see what matters: my wife, my family, my memories, and my God... with nothing else there to distract me. And of course, in order for me to get to that point, I need to live a life which consists of not building material treasures on this earth, and not getting overly attached to something that ultimately, in the end, moth will rust and dust will destroy.
To a lot of people, and myself included, this is an interesting goal for me to have. The reason being that I love to collect things. Now, a lot of things I won't even be able to give away because nobody would even want it; i.e. my ticket stub collection. My DVD collection will also probably be worthless because, when I'm dying, I doubt those will even be used anymore (which is very sad to me, by the way). But I do, I collect things. I still have my collection of Pokemon cards, I have a bin load of Beanie Babies, I have a decent amount of random coins (including all 50 state quarters), and other random things that I just like to hold on to. I started a shot glass collection like, 5 days ago, that I'm actually really excited about. All this to say, it's a funny thing for me to feel so strongly about. But I do, and it's because of this scripture (and others that are similar). I don't want God to have any inclination that I was over-invested in anything in the world; anything that could draw attention and glory away that is rightfully his.
I will close, with a story. A story that got me to start really thinking about this again. I work at a storage facility, and a tenant of ours who was renting out a locker, was homeless. I remember starting a conversation with him, complaining about the weather, and he began to describe how much more annoying it made it for him to sleep under the bridge down the street. And he wasn't even complaining, I was. He was just talking about it, with a "it was unfortunate but it's all good" kind of attitude. He had lost his key to his locker, and unfortunately needed to pay a locksmith to come open it for him, and believe it or not, he was less upset about having to cough up extra money than I would have been. I remember him mentioning something, and I said something to the affect of him being able to look that up on the computer. He doesn't even know how they work. Computers or cell phones. Once he got his locker open, he was upset that there were two backpacks in there instead of one, because it was just more for him to carry. Now, there's a very obvious temptation for this story to make you sad. But don't let it. I envied this guy. And while I obviously wished he was better off, he has something that I don't think he could have gotten had it not been for his situation. He was such a genuinly nice, cool guy, who had enough patience and gratitude for the both of, and this overwhelming calmness about him that was unbelievable. And I don't know him personally - I don't know his life, don't know if he was just having a good day, and don't know how he was 20 years ago. But I do know that at this time in his life, he had reached the point where he allowed himself to see past bad or annoying things, and just be content. I don't know what he did to get what I'm sure is just the little money that he had, but he found ways. And he was content with having so little, because he found so much within simply living out his life. And that's what I envied about him; that's what I wish I could, day in and day out, say about myself. That life, love, friendships, experiences, and most of all God - those are the things I hold on to, and the things that I treasure, and that I allow to define who I am and what I believe in. To not be led astray by junk, money, and greed. This guy, while having to grind through so many hardships and things that really suck about his situation, so obviously had a sense of freedom and liberation from the things that matter way too much to people in this world. And it was not only refreshing, but an ultimately humbling thing to see.