One of my most vivid memories of my childhood was the day, while visiting a favorite aunt, that I broke one of her possessions. I don’t exactly remember what it was, but I do remember the look on my mother’s face, and it was not a pleasant one. I had a propensity to be clumsy, sometimes by accident (as in this case), and sometimes on purpose (when it came to not wanting to drink my milk). I remember thinking, “I am in a heap of trouble.”
Before I could be admonished by my mother, Aunt Emmy replied, “Don’t worry about it. It’s just stuff. At least Andrea didn’t cut or hurt herself.” Then she got out the broom and swept up the mess. My cascade of emotions had just run the gamut. From envisioning “life in prison without the possibility of parole,” I returned to the backyard to play with my cousins free from anxiety.
I always thought that my aunt was just special in this regard. But, lately I have come to realize that more than likely it was a matter of priority that governed her thinking. It’s not that she didn’t appreciate her belongings; they just didn’t trump her regard and/or concern for me. This is a lesson God has been teaching me over the past couple of months.
The other day, while taking off a necklace that had been a gift from my husband, I fumbled and dropped it on the tile floor. It broke into pieces. In times past I would have had an extreme reaction, berating myself for being clumsy and ruining something I loved. Instead, I found myself more concerned about getting the pieces off the floor so that neither the family nor our dog would be cut. I said aloud, “It’s just stuff.”
Don’t get me wrong. It’s fine to have and enjoy our possessions. However, since our focus is to be on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we should never allow ourselves to become too attached to our belongings, our social status, or even our own life on earth. God is the determiner of the number of our days and the things He provides for us as we live them out. When our focus is right, I believe we can better enjoy our “stuff” and be content in times of abundance as well as times of want. Although temporal things will pass away, those in Christ have the assurance that we are much more than “stuff” to our Heavenly Father.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:31–32, 35, 37–39)