My family and I are currently in the process of moving house. It’s only to the next suburb, but it’s as significant as any relocation.
A friend commented to me the other day: “You’re essentially moving your whole life…”
I thought it was a bit of an overstatement at first, but as I pondered the words I agreed. I really believe that ‘things’ are never just things, and every time we move we are putting the items which symbolise ‘us’ into a different context. An environment which reflects, to some degree, who we are.
Items nestled in the depths of plain brown boxes are carefully wrapped in newspaper and plastic because we value them. They add something to our lives, tell snippets of our story, and add joy to our daily existence. These things are our representatives, if you want to go that far.
My husband brought home some boxes the other day that had been previously used by another family. On one box the owner had written the word ‘Fragile’ several times over, and she’d described in detail the contents. It sounded like collectable antique china. Highly breakable pieces. She made that very clear. No doubt her treasures made their way safely to her new abode, but at the time of packing she was determined to clarify just how precious her collection was. It was hers, and she didn’t want it damaged.
Sure, we can’t hold onto things ultimately, but we tend to hold on to what they represent. They describe parts of us that are sometimes impossible to put into words. They can present a certain image or status that we desperately want, but in person can never seem to achieve. Items of beauty all have an origin, a point at which they came into our lives. And we want to share them… to tell their story in a way.
Our possessions can ground us where we otherwise feel adrift. They remind us who we are and where we’ve been.
But, when I think about it… they can never really match the atmosphere that comes from being free of things -essentially ‘ungrounded’ on a spiritual level.
I think the moment I realised Jesus Christ was truly with me wherever I went was the moment I felt that nothing – no people or possessions – could ever compare. He is the treasure whose value is above all. Yes, he is gracious enough to provide tangible treasures as well – but HE is the joy around which all else revolves. In fact, our stuff – no matter how spectacular – cannot help but pale in comparison to the liberating, life-giving relationship only he can provide.
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)