How do we measure our lives? What if I was snuffed from the surface of the earth tomorrow? What would I leave behind? I am convinced that it isn't about when I die... rather it is about what I did while I lived. Once I am gone, what story will be told by what I leave behind?
When Kel and I were in college, we liked to find estate sales and wander through them. It is a fascinating experience. As you sort and sift through the personal belongings the family left after their passing, it is like you are walking a kaleidoscope of their life. All the colors and components are there, scattered for your to inspect. A few years back we were able to tour the Biltmore Mansion. We remain in wonder of the expanse, reach, and extravagance of their lives. Each room tells a story. Each photograph bears witness to their influence and character. You walk the halls and you feel the power of the family even though generations have passed by.
This stuff of earth that I hold so tightly to... can feel so binding, and yet I realize its fleeting nature. I am so thankful to walk this road. Have you ever had the chance to measure the worth of your life? I have and I realized that it has no worth. Now, that is perhaps not the wisest thing for me to say as I try to sell it!
And yet... the stuff of earth is a distraction that I am compelled to shove aside. What would Nicodemus had been able to accomplish if he were able to walk away? Where would we be had Moses not been willing to abandon his wealth and standing? What if Noah wasn't willing to invest his days and his resources into building a ridiculous boat? What do we sacrifice when we are unwilling to give up what we have?
Kel and I love to travel, and when we travel we bring a piece of art home. We always make it a mission to select an item that is created by a local artist... typically either a street artist, a student, or an artist that isn't all that good (that is how we can afford it). Even so, we have accumulated a collection that is very dear to us. Each piece tells of an experience in our life where we took a chance.
A couple articles will accompany us to our parting days of this earth. We have an oil from a street artist in a Moscow Market that we purchased while we brought Aleksandra home. We have an incredible sheet of rice paper that a man painted with his thumbnail as we watched on the Great Wall of China a day before we were claimed by our daughter, Sterling. We have a charcoal drawing of Kel that we patiently waited for on a frigid night in Times Square just before Caleb was born.
Where we have been... what we hold dear... these things define us.
I love this picture. I offer it up as a definition of me. It is a reflection of our passion. We were blessed with a single biological child, our son Caleb. And yet... we knew that we had more children. And so, we found our daughters on the face of the earth. These items bear witness to our love.
It is a bittersweet thing to part with items that have brought so much happiness into our lives, and even so... it seems so appropriate that now these very same belongings will bring joy to new lives as well as godspeed us on our journey. I am so thankful that we get to say goodbye to so much. It is how we say hello to what is ahead. We do so... never forgetting the incredible power, experience, and knowledge that the past has given to us. We can never thank enough our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents.
Tragedy struck a friend of mine this week. He and his family are missionaries to Paraguay. An automobile accident took the life of his wife and son. He now holds his young daughter tightly in his love. Life can seem so cruel.
Somehow though... even our lives are something that we unreasonably hold tightly in our grips. This existence isn't about our stuff. It isn't really even about our lives. When you really look into it... it is about our worth. What makes up our worth?
It comes down to belief. It comes down to action. It comes down to the simple examination... does your action reconcile with your belief?
As I sorted through the things that I have held close for the past 37 years of my life, and I mentally processed the reality that I am releasing them... I had to face a simple truth. When I am gone... what will be left? It will simply be, the people I have touched, and the belief I have lived. Everything else... well, it is just garage sell stuff.
P.S. If you can, please come buy my stuff. If you ask, I will tell you the story behind the item you take home.