Diann and I are at that stage of life where we no longer have our parents with us. We, with our siblings, faced the task of sorting through our parents’ earthly possessions. Digging through drawers and storage bins we recovered letters and cards we had sent to our parents over the years. We also had to decide what to do with items we had given them as gifts.
It was strange taking back what we had lovingly given them, but it could only be theirs until they left this earth. As a pastor I stood before many a casket. Some of them had little drawers in which you could place items dear to the deceased. I get it, there may be some comfort in the practice, but I’ll admit, I found it a bit strange; we really can’t take it with us.
I knew this, that we can’t take it with us. I often preached the truth as a pastor, stating on more than one occasion, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.” Still, it’s a truth that struck with greater force when we sorted through our parents’ possessions.
It’s good to be reminded of this truth while we’re in the midst of living this life. For one thing, Diann and I have been prompted to de-clutter while we’re alive so that our children will have less to dispose of when we’re gone. Although, I’m going to need my toothbrush and a few other items up until close to the end.
But it goes deeper than trying to get rid of some of our “stuff” before the kids are forced to do so. We should be living with the end in view. Not in a morbid way but in a realistic way, in a way that helps us prioritize what is really important.
It doesn’t much matter what we do with the letters, cards, and gifts we gave to our parents; these items did their job! The delight the items gave and the love they communicated is, in the end, what’s important.
That should be the purpose of life, to add value to the lives of those within our sphere of influence and also to give delight to God who gives us this life to live. The two great commandments, which Jesus identified, make this clear: to love God with all we’ve got and to love others like we so lovingly look out for ourselves. The most important things we leave our loved ones can’t be put into boxes to be sorted out later!
Jesus said, “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)