By David Faust
Ordinary objects seem more valuable when they aren’t readily at hand. Did you ever need to open a can, but you couldn’t find a can opener? When a screwdriver wasn’t available, did you use a butter knife? Hammering a nail with a rock will give you a new appreciation for our enterprising ancestors who invented hand tools.
When my wife, Candy, and I moved earlier this year, we discovered the surprising value of the humble cardboard box. We live pretty simply, but over the years we have accumulated a lot of books, decorations, and keepsakes. Faced with a mountain of stuff to move, we searched for free cardboard boxes at the supermarket and the bookstore. We begged them from our friends. It pained my thrifty heart, but I even purchased empty boxes from an office supply store.
On moving day the cardboard boxes fit snuggly inside a vehicle owned by the company Two Men and a Truck. I’m glad the driver seemed like a trustworthy guy, because I met him that morning and by late evening he drove away with 90 percent of our earthly treasures in the back of his truck. You’ve heard the expression “easy come, easy go,” but on moving day the operative word is “queasy.”
A Vanishing Mist
Jesus reminded us, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Life’s greatest treasures can’t be stored in a cardboard box or even in a safe at the bank. That’s why the book of James lays out frank advice about our plans and priorities.
• Plans change; stay flexible. “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:13, 14). Senator Everett Dirksen quipped, “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”
• Time flies; use it wisely. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (vv. 14, 15). Life is like a morning fog that quickly melts away as the sun rises higher in the sky. If someone gave you $613,000, how would you spend it? If you live to be 70 years old, God gives you more than 613,000 hours—how will you invest that priceless gift?
• Overconfidence leads to failure; be humble. “As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil” (v. 16). Our arms are designed to reach out and serve, not to pat ourselves on the back. Why brag about big plans that may not come to pass at all? On the day we die, what we believe will matter more than what we achieved. Instead of asking, “How much can we accumulate for ourselves?” we should ask, “How much fruit can we bear for God?”
• Opportunities are precious; make the most of them. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (v. 17).
The guys from Two Men and a Truck successfully moved our stuff. Candy and I are adjusting to our new surroundings. Now if we can just figure out what to do with all those empty boxes stacked in our garage.
1. What is a good thing you know you “ought to do”?
2. How are you currently investing your life in eternally significant things?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for October 12, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Jeremiah 14, 15
Jeremiah 30, 31