Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just stuff

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
One of my most favorite places in the world is Colorado Springs. So when I heard about the wildfire raging in Black Forest, just north of the Springs, last week, I checked the updates online several times a day.
Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the bestselling Left Behind novels, and his wife Dianna were at what he calls his writing cave 85 miles to the west, where they could see the smoke. Imagine an inferno in the Pittsburgh area so humongous the smoke could be seen in northern Indiana County!
But Jerry wasn’t worried about his home in Black Forest, a block from the mandatory evacuation zone. “It’s just stuff,” he said on Facebook. “Heavy emotion but enjoying the peace that passes understanding. Just don’t care about stuff as long as everyone’s safe.”
When the fire was finally 100-percent contained nine days after it began, more than 500 homes were gone, 16,000 acres destroyed, thousands displaced (meaning “homeless”), and two lives lost.
Those who had to evacuate in the first few hours had little time to prepare. One woman tossed things in a laundry basket, including her six-year-old daughter’s favorite blanket, a laptop computer, a jewelry box and some family heirlooms.*
What stuff would you throw in a laundry basket? Or, if you were miles away, helpless to save your home and possessions, would you have the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)?
What would I grab? The firebox? My laptop? External hard drive? My jewelry box? My backup CDs? My Kindles? The truck keys?
I know one thing—if my husband were asleep on the couch or my children or grandchildren were in the house, I wouldn’t even think about anything else. Like Jerry said, “It’s just stuff.”
But stuff grows on me, and I justify my attachment to it, especially stuff I’ve spent a lifetime working hard for. Could I honestly say, “It’s just stuff” and mean it?
Case in point: We finally replaced our 16-year-old Explorer this past week with a brand new, ruby-red, F-150, Supercab. Our new baby. The whisk broom I bought and tucked in the door compartment came in handy when I took my six-year-old grandson to his baseball game. He slid into base at least once, collided with other players on the field and rolled around in the dirt twice. And got swept off before I buckled him in. I had thought about stopping for ice cream after the game, but decided I could make us sundaes when we got home.
But it’s just a truck. Stuff. In time I’ll stop whisking the floor every time I drive it. I won’t notice every blade of grass on the carpeting, and I won’t cringe when I see the dirt in the cleats of my grandson’s baseball shoes.
Stuff doesn’t last forever. It’s given to us to use, not worship.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Jesus said.
Where is your heart?
With your stuff? Or the people you love?
Lord, remind me as many times as I need it, that it’s just stuff. Amen.

 Special-Tea: Read Matthew 6:19–34

*From “Colorado’s devastating Black Forest Fire 100% contained,” by Jason Hanna, CNN news


  1. Michele, thanks for the update about Jerry's house. I was out of town and am just now catching up with this news. At a time like this I think of Pearl Buck who lost a complete manuscript during a fire and her precious green coat. She, like Jerry, counted it all 'stuff' and as a result of the loss realized that the people--her family--were the most important. I feel the same way. It would be sad to lose the things we love but devastating to lose our loved ones.

  2. A POST SCRIPT TO THIS BLOG: Jerry and Dianna's house escaped the flames.