I Have Nothing

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Imagine what a pioneer from the Old West would think if they time-traveled to modern times and stood in your living room – or what if someone from a poverty-stricken third world country found themselves in your kitchen?  They would be amazed.  Do you ever think about the sheer amount of stuff we have in wealthy, developed nations?  The comforts and technology we have is mind-boggling.

It should inspire us to awe, thankfulness to praise God, and a desire to share what we have with others who are in need. And often, it does.

And yet, from the perspective of God or eternity, what do we have?

A whole lot of nothing.

Eternally speaking, what we have is worth no more than the tattered clothing of a homeless man.  We have machines that will be obsolete in a matter of years, houses that will crumble with the passage of time, belongings that will wear down, rust, and fall apart – certainly nothing that will last beyond that day when God remakes the world into a new heavens and earth.

All our stuff and money is like carnival tickets.  It’s handy and useful while you’re in the carnival.  You use them to play games and gather memories.  But at the end of the day, when the carnival lights go out, they’re nothing but scraps of paper in your jeans pocket.

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I’ve written about earthly treasures before, but until this week it never occurred to me to look up, gaze around the lovely home I enjoy with my family, and say, “This, all this stuff, is nothing.”

It’s a real attitude-changer.

You don’t get upset at your kids when furniture nothing gets nicked and scratched, or walls nothings get drawn on with crayons.  You don’t feel a sense of bruised entitlement when they empty the toy box all over the very clean living room you had approximately 1.5 seconds to enjoy nothing!

In eternity, will any of that stuff matter?  Or even ten short years from now?

Moving beyond the topic of miniature masterminds of destruction children…  You don’t get upset at the idea that nothing might get destroyed in a fire someday, or stolen, or lost.  And it’s a lot easier to contemplate sharing all you have with others when you count your worldly possessions as nothing at all.

And that’s why we share all we have with you
Though there’s little to be found
When all you’ve got is nothing
There’s a lot to go around
— “Through Heaven’s Eyes” (one of my favorite songs!) from the film “Prince of Egypt”

I love the way God’s Word puts everything in its proper place, and (if we are reading it rightly) leaves no room for us to worship anything but God, or demean anything good He has made for our enjoyment.  We are created in God’s image, beloved children, precious in His sight…and yet we are small, insignificant specks before His greatness.  Our earthly possessions are gifts from Him, to be stewarded appropriately because all things are His…and at the same time they are transient and temporary, nothing to be grasped or hoarded, for they have no eternal worth.  Their value is found only in the way God uses them to shape us into His image and draw us closer to Him.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. – 1 Timothy 6:7

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. – 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

I spend a lot of time praying, “God, you’ve given me so many things and I don’t deserve a single one!”  That’s true, and a good prayer.  But perhaps I should spend just as much – if not more – time praying, “God, You alone are worthy.  These earthly things are of no account.”

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4 Comments

  1. This is just what someone in my life needs right now!! Just what I was talking to her about! Sharing it! 🙂

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  2. My dad always described it as learning to see the world in it’s pre-ash state. I think it is very important to learn this as women because we can get very bent out of shape about stuff, being the natural nesters we are, and I do think it helps us share more easily!
    Thank you for this reminder as I’m about to have my house invaded to get it painted. It’s all nothing so they can’t mess anything up. 🙂

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