Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stuff

Newport, Rhode Island has the stuff dreams are made of -- or so it would seem when you walk down Bellevue Avenue and peer through iron fences at what has been described as a street of "opulent stone palaces."  I snapped this photo of Marble House through the ornate fence.  Built in 1888 as a "summer cottage retreat" and a 39th birthday gift for Alva Vanderbilt, it contains 500,000 cubic feet of marble, and is a picture of excess.  We toured the house and it is beautiful!

It's interesting to note that the people who lived in Marble House did not appear to be happy people.  All their extreme wealth certainly brought fleeting pleasures, but true joy was just not there.  As we all know, "money doesn't buy happiness."

I'm not preaching against having nice things, but rather trying to help us (me included) see what is important and meaningful in life.  It's a matter of priorities, as well as where does true satisfaction in life derive?  As in all things, God knows what makes us happy and gives us true joy -- and it's not through an abundance of stuff.

 
We all have so much stuff.  Granted, we need a certain amount of food, clothing, shelter and other things to live in this world, but do we really need so much?  I know there are many, many people who are scraping by with the minimum of needs being met and my heart goes out to them.  In this case, I'm talking about those of us who have all we need and far more -- and we are still accumulating and wanting more stuff.

 Here's what I wrote in my book "Joy in the Journey" (not yet published) about being loaded with too much material stuff:  "...we must spend time purchasing, paying for, making room for, displaying, cleaning, insuring, and eventually storing before finding a way to get rid of them." 

To add the weight of authority from God's Word, here is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians (5:10):  For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (3:11-15) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it , because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

I guess all of this has been brought home to my heart since I've had some work done in our house this last week.  We had both 28 year old bathroom countertops replaced with stone, along with a few other updates and repairs.  I asked our contractor if he'd ever heard of Murphy's Law, he said, "That's my middle name."  For a simple job, it did seem like a lot went wrong, which caused a lot of stress all the way around.  And after it was all finished, I think to myself, even this quartz and granite will not make it through the fire.  The only thing that will abide in the end is our heart for Christ and what we have accomplished through His strength and for the glory of His holy name.

Yes, we do need a certain amount of stuff in this world, but let's weigh the value of each piece of stuff we bring into our lives.  Remember the quote from missionary C. T. Studd, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."

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