Friday, April 26, 2019

Lightening Up

Life goes on and passages bring change and new perspectives on all aspects of our journeys. Well, at least this should occur unless we are just adrift. For my wife and I our present circumstances are the best they have ever been. We are growing old together physically and spiritually, as God has ordained. I feel blessed in hospital chaplaincy to which God has called me. Even though I have “failed retirement” I know that I am in God’s will using the gifts he gave me.  My wife has retired from a nursing career after 45 years. Additionally, we have seen the need to simplify life and lighten up on possessions of all kinds. This has meant innumerable trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army as well as selling over 200 items through consignment shops. This has not been easy as we are now getting down to the numerically valuable items.

My parents collected antiques, furniture, pottery and Currier and Ives lithographs. When they aged they vacated their house, which we had purchased from them so they could simplify and move south. We moved my mother, with alcoholism and Alzheimer’s, to assisted living, nursing homes and eventually a locked geropsychiatric unit.  Their former home still had old milk in the fridge, piles of papers and mail and all of their clothing, furnishings and basically their whole history for 60 years of marriage as well as evidence of their family before them. It was a monumental feat to clear out and dispense of carloads over months while we determined what to keep. I was the only one visiting my mother who had become violent in her dementia. She eventually became silent as her disease progressed. I have written of the miraculous spiritual healing in which I was blessed to participate. My father had moved to Florida to cope with lifes harsh realities. After my mother died, he eventually found a friend who had lost her spouse to dementia to help each other.

Although my father had arranged financial and legal issues well, he had simply moved out of his former life, friends home and possessions. Mentally he was beaten down to a point where he needed to leave to survive. That was OK with us, just sad, which helped inform us of a better way. We have become determined not to leave our life a shambles for our children now lively in distant states.

Today I sent a large box of Curriers via UPS to an old print dealer in New York City. They will purchase the prints at a considerably discount because of a poor market. What my parents thought would be a tremendous investment has turned out to be a sad chore of divestiture. We are doing the same with other collections from antique still banks, duck decoys, china and furniture. There is a contemplative view that I am taking. I am asking God to tell me about the process. He is saying to enjoy the journey but to know that it is relationships not possessions that matter in life. There can be enjoyment in the treasure hunt for items, but the real joy should be in the shared experience and the growth of love and respect for one another we gain through it.

In Jesus’s parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:15 He says, ‘Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  When the wealthy farmer had so much crop surplus he wanted to build more barns to store it and just be at leisure. The Lord informed him, “this very night your life will be demanded from you…This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (vs. 20,21). This admonition from the Lord is frightening, as we never know when our time is up. God makes very clear that the most important decision in life is whom we will serve. Joshua, the Hebrew leader, told his people, “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the Lord… But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then chose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14,15). 

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is one decision that is the ultimate one in life and there is only one response that brings life and life eternal. That is in trusting in Jesus Christ as you Savior and Lord. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘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 jot destroy, and where thieves no not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). May all your treasures be in heaven.

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