On Possessions, Contentment, and Eternity

SHARON ROCKWELL|GUEST

Early in the pandemic lockdown, I was determined to be productive. Like many of my friends, I used some of my new-found time to do deep house cleaning including purging things that tend to collect in every available closet, shelf, and drawer. Before long, my Tupperware was properly matched with lids and arranged by size. The junk drawer was decluttered. Clothes were tried on to see if they “sparked joy” a la Marie Kondo.

Then came the big stuff. Stuff that has not been used in years but somehow, I haven’t wanted to let go. The waffle maker that would have to be dusted to be used. Shoes that once matched an outfit no longer in style. Books I enjoyed but will not reread. Finally, the attic! Holiday decorations so abundant that every year I have to decide which items I will display because they all can’t be used at the same time. It became clear that I am clinging to too much stuff!

Not that I am not grateful. In fact, I am very thankful for the abundance that I enjoy. But during this period of self-quarantining, I am haunted by the role these possessions have in my life. This was on my mind when, during a morning devotion, I read Matt 6:19-21 through this new lens. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Ouch! Have I been busy “laying up treasures on earth?” I don’t want my mind and heart to be so obsessed with the physical things in my life that I lose sight of eternal treasures. On reading the Matthew passage, I was immediately convicted that I had chosen to spend so much of my quarantine time sorting through trinkets rather than using this precious new time in prayer, praise, and worship. Additionally I recognized that while I have often complained that I didn’t have enough time, I now see that my choice of how to spend my time revealed that I am more interested in focusing on my possessions instead of finding peace and contentment in God and His provisions.

Jesus warned a crowd, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Using a parable, He told of the rich man who said to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:19)

My desire is to be rich toward God. I am determined to reduce my pile of earthly treasures – giving things away to people who can use them, donating to charity those things that still have usefulness, and most of all eliminating much of the excess that distracts my thoughts. I want God to use me to be a blessing to others by sharing my abundance. There is a line in the hymn “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” that encouraged me in church this week.  “And all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood.”

I want to choose contentment, and be intentional about focusing on God, giving thanks to the Giver of all good things, and acknowledging God’s sovereign control over my life. I want to find my joy in Him, not in my possessions. I want to stop striving for productivity and instead rest in God’s presence and the eternal hope He offers.

Lord, strengthen my desire to serve rather than collect, to share rather than to hoard, and to count my earthly treasures as unimportant when viewed in light of eternity. Give me a heart that treasures You and rejects selfish gain. Focus my eyes past my earthly treasures, looking instead for the opportunities for good works that You set before me to do. Your kingdom come Lord!

About the Author:

Sharon Rockwell

Sharon is recently retired from a career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry.  She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her hometown of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA.  Her husband, two married daughters and two married sons are all engineers, who provide interesting technical conversations for a dinner table.  Sharon is working on completing her bucket list which includes raising orchids, attending culinary school, bird watching and traveling.  She has three baby granddaughters and is looking forward to the new grandson coming soon.

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