What Lasts and What Doesn’t Last

I was browsing in a Barnes and Noble bookstore when I came upon a table of books with this sign, “Bargain Priced – Former Bestsellers – Starting at $5.98.” Many of those books originally sold for $25 and up when they were best sellers! It was a reminder that most best selling books aren’t best selling books for very long! Books and their authors have a limited shelf life.

When I started my pastoral ministry over 40 years ago I read several books by a best-selling author and mega church pastor. (This was when there were very few mega churches.) His name was Charles Allen. You ask, “Who’s Charles Allen?” My point exactly.

Years ago the late Hugh O’Brien starred in the popular TV western Wyatt Earp. When he was being interviewed in his later years, he said he had gone through different stages in his acting career. At first people said, “Who’s Hugh O’Brien?” Then, “Get me Hugh O’Brien.” Then, “Get me a younger Hugh O’Brien type.” And finally, “Who’s Hugh O’Brien?” Some who are reading this (those who are younger readers) are thinking just that, “Who’s Hugh O’Brien?” My point exactly, and Mr. O’Brien’s too.

The irony is that everything that is tangible, touchable, seeable, etc. is going to wear out, rust, decay, get lost or stolen or in some other process is going to go away. That which is popular and in style now will be unpopular and out of style before long. Those who break a world record will, sooner or later, have their own record broken by someone else.

On the other hand, religious faith affirms that that which is spiritual, which we can’t see or touch, will last forever. How ironic; that which is solid and so real now will not last, while that which takes faith to believe it even exists will last forever!

This doesn’t mean that the “real world” of what we can see and touch isn’t important, it is. God has made us flesh and blood creatures that need food, clothing, housing. We also enjoy cars, boats, crafts, golf clubs, cameras, cell phones, etc, etc. We’re pleased with an achievement. We feel good about putting away some money in savings. All of this is well and good, when we can keep it all in a proper perspective, which is realizing that it won’t last. I, for one, want to put the major focus of my life on that which will last and last, for an eternity. This is why I want to make a relationship with God my top priority. I recall a line from an old poem that states, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Jesus put it this way: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin 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)

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