September 17, 2014

“Only One Life” – Chris Whitler

Several years ago, my sister and I sold all the things left over from my parent’s 40 years of living in their home. So many people came to the sale! People were in the yard at 6am with flashlights looking through all that we had set out the night before. When we finally opened the door to the house, people flooded in, rummaging through everything. They cleared most of the attic, basement and cellar storage.

Dad was a picker and our house had always been full of old paintings, frames, books, lamps, knickknacks, exotic stuff, tapestries and just plain junk that caught his eye at the thrift store. My Dad loved to find overlooked treasures but his heart was never to resell any of it. He just liked strange, old things. He would talk of how much something was “worth” or play with ideas of running his own antique store but he was never really serious.

After things stopped selling, we started giving stuff away. That’s when the diggers came. They looked through the picked over piles and through our construction dumpster we had rented for all the unsellable junk. Then, the Salvation Army came to take what was left and still useful, bags and bags of old books. I think there were four editions of The Complete Works of Shakespeare!

The day of the sale was sunny and went by quickly but it had been raining the days before so the ground was a bit muddy. While helping one customer out with a bigger item he had purchased, my eye caught a little something trampled in the mud. It was a small, woven bookmark my Mother had kept in her Bible. I picked it up, wiped it off and straightened it out.

It read, ”Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I put it in my pocket and now it’s in my Bible. After my mother’s passing, Dad let go of a lot to move closer to family. And it has been quite a load off to be rid of all that stuff. We’ve saved a few things but what will really be remembered of our lives? That we had cool stuff? That we made lots of money? Of course not. It will be love, laughter, shared grief, prayers, humility, time spent, each embrace, songs, stories, pictures, words of encouragement, words of challenge, meals together, sacrifice and generosity.

This is my inheritance, I pray I spend it well.

How can we spend our lives on the things that matter today?

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