7-28-16 - All That We Can't Leave Behind

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind.

– U2, Walk On (All That You Can’t Leave Behind)

This song came to mind as I reflected on Jesus’ parable of the rich man who is so focused on acquiring and storing his many assets. This fictional fellow thought he’d guaranteed his security – but think again!

Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

Whose will they be? What will be left of our legacy after we’ve gone – whether it’s moving from a beloved community or leaving the planet for good? What good will all the things we invest in, material and otherwise, do us when we’re dead? Perhaps a rich man’s children will inherit, and sometimes carry on the good – and often they’ll turn out lazy and self-indulgent, expecting hand-outs. Can we secure our future and that of our descendents?

The invitation here, as always, is to put our trust in God, not in our financial security, and to live our lives on a daily basis, not in five-year increments. All the things we put our trust in can fail us – people, machinery, the very earth sometimes. We go through life assuming elevators will not snap their cables, or roads collapse, or partners become unfaithful. We’re pretty sure banks won’t fail – but a whole lot of other financial “security” didn’t turn out to be so secure in 2008. What will it take for us to truly put our weight on the provision and power and love of God?

Here’s a thought exercise: is there any possession or amount of money you would refuse to part with if it would save the person you love the most in the whole world? If you needed to be emptied in order to receive the greatest gift, on what might you loosen your grip? That time will come when our grip is loosened for us, and then we will all part with our riches. What if we started to live in that kind of freedom while we’re still alive in this world?

Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind

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