I remember going to visit my grandmother when I was just a kid. The trip to California seemed to last an eternity, but the Grandma’s house was worth the price of the world’s longest trip. I loved going to my grandma’s. She had the greatest toys — she kept them in a toybox in her closet. I loved that box — I loved my grandma too — but I loved that box. While we were there, I could everything out of the box — comic books, toys, games — and play with them just like they were mine…like it was my stuff…but at the end of the week, when we would pack up to go home, all the good stuff went back in the box. Try to sneak a comic book home and she morphed from little grandma to the all-seeing presence.
I could never take any “stuff” with me, it was there before I came and there when I left. While I was there I could play with it like it was all “my stuff” but when I left, it all went back in the box.
One summer Lynn and I went on vacation with friends. We went to the North Woods in Minnesota. Had a great time, except for that afternoon when we pulled a Monopoly game out of it’s box. Brian was a good friend of mine, humble, gentle, just a good guy. We didn’t realize that Monopoly changed him. Ruthless — total commitment to acquisition. He knew that ultimately the master of the board was the one with the most stuff and he played to win.
He would smile when we landed in jail and clench his fist when we passed payday. He was ruthless in his passion to have it all in his hands and by the time we were done, he’d reduced us to financial and psychological bankruptcy.
But guess what? No matter how well he played the game…no matter how many hotels he placed on boardwalk, when the game was done…it all went back in the box. When it came to his “Monopoly Stuff” for an afternoon he was on top, #1. But before we left that place. It all went back in the box.
So it is with life…as Jon Ortberg says, “It all goes back in the box.” In I Timothy 6:7, Paul writes: For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. In other words, it doesn’t matter how well you play the game, how much stuff you collect… how many times you win. It all goes back in the box. In the end it’s no more “my stuff” than monopoly money or Grandma’s toys. In the end it all goes back in a box and at the very end we call that box a casket and if the focus of our hopes, our joys and if all my treasures were traded for the acquisition of stuff…in the end, all that’s left — is in the box. But there is another way.
Listen to what Jesus said about the box.
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 (NIV)
This vitally profound statement that Jesus makes has wrestled it’s way into my heart… In the last few weeks, I know of three people who have lost their fathers. Few things in life are more difficult than walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I didn’t know the three fathers, but I do know they lived life, in a way that put treasures in heaven…and where our treasures are…our hearts follow. That’s good news…because when get to heaven…there is no more box.