More Than Stuff!

I was gazing around my office this morning, doing a little daydreaming before I launched into today’s “To Do” list, and I realized that I was surrounded by a lot of stuff. I have a pretty big office, due to the fact that it also holds a small conference table, but it is still full! I moved two books from my desk to my book shelves and I couldn’t find a slot to stuff them in. There wasn’t even very much room to lay them flat in front of the books because of all my knickknacks collected over four and a half decades of ministry! The picture above is just one side of my office and boy, is it covered with stuff! But…that stuff is, in many ways, a collage of my life. There are gifts and mementos from my kids – when they were kids – and some from my grand-kids. I have awards, pictures, art, paper-weights, gag gifts, mugs, thermoses, souvenirs from Alaska to Saudi Arabia, with books and notebooks jammed into every space possible. I have a roll of John Wayne toilet paper, a can of possum meat, a sand rose, a mini shoe shine kit, a rock and beam, a piece of the Berlin Wall, Islamic prayer beads, three hunter-orange turtles, a jar of instant coffee from Russia, a shark squirt-gun, a couple biting bullets, a small New Testament from Jerusalem, and wooden shoes from Holland that actually fit me at one time – way back in 1971. The total list is so much longer and that doesn’t even include my life-time collection of books, scripts from musicals I wrote, and some special gifts from the casts of those musicals. And, there is another bookcase and cabinet on the other wall with a glass case holding my elephant collection. What do all these have in common – besides being mine? They are all memories. Memories of people, places, and events that remind me about some of what I’ve done over the years. I can’t help but reflect on a couple of things when I look at all of it. First, it is all amazingly personal. Not because it’s mine and about me, but because who wants any of it or cares about any of it besides me? After having to pack up the belongs of other loved ones who have passed, I don’t have any problem imagining my loved ones saying, “What in the world are we going to do with all this stuff?” It may be a treasure to me, but to anyone else it’s mostly yard sale junk or Good Will gifts. Secondly, it reminds me to thank God for giving me a wonderful life full of memories of special people in special places and special things we did together. If I had a Mike Root personal Ark of the Covenant, this is the stuff that would go in it. But, it is only stuff and like all stuff, it will one day become dust – just like I will. Knickknacks, awards, diplomas, and memories only have meaning because God allowed them to happen. Like Solomon said so long ago, life isn’t about the stuff we accumulate, it’s about how we “fear God and keep His commandments.” That is all that really matters as we evaluate life. Looking back is fun and encouraging, but looking forward means the best is yet to come. That also means there’s a lot more empty shelves somewhere to work with!