James Washington

James A. Washington

I wish this were original, but it is not.

Back when we could assemble in church, I was blessed to hear a pastor address the fears many of us might have been going through during tough times with the economy and the uncertainty of the world. He talked about famine, fire, terrorists, recession and the mortgage crisis and more – many of those worldly issues that might keep you up at night.

Let me add COVID-19 to further emphasize my point. I was moved at an analogy he made regarding how we go through life and how we all ultimately leave it. The pastor spoke of a man he knew who had acquired a great deal of stuff in his lifetime only to have to get rid of some of it as age forced him to move into an Assisted Care Living facility. The man was moved from that place to a nursing home and then again, finally, to a hospice care center. Each time the man had ridded himself of more and more stuff.

His children had garage sales to rid themselves of “Dad’s stuff;” those things they did not want. They kept some things and, often as their father’s health failed, threw more things away.

One day a pastor went to visit him in the hospice center only to see the sum of the man’s possessions meticulously kept in a garbage bag - certainly to be thrown out when the man died. The pastor was struck at how little the man had left and remembered how much stuff the man had accumulated at one time, which was indeed substantial.

And you know what? When the man died, he did not even get to take his garbage bag full of stuff with him. The pastor’s point, as is mine, is that we spend an awful lot of time trying to accumulate stuff and then more time worrying about losing it. We worship a God who does not give us this worry or accept this fear. There is joy in knowing, or at least there should be, that the God we serve does indeed supply all our needs.

Now this does not mean that our day-to-day struggles are not real. We know they are. But how we deal with them was the point of the sermon. I have come to believe 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10. “God shows out in our times of weakness.” If we recognize and understand our stuff is really not all that important, then God shows up with ample supply; our manna for the day if you will. If you are honest with yourself, He has up until this point of your life.

Our angst should be replaced with the peace of mind. When the world is out of control, God is not. Where do you choose to put your energy, circle your wagons and demonstrate your faith? Is it in the world, or in God?

Social distancing cannot ever be a substitute for spiritual togetherness. That question where you put your focus in times of trouble is only of importance if you are unsure of the answer. Worry comes with the world. And the world, by design, is chaotic. Peace of mind comes with the Lord because the Lord is anything but chaotic.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ is in you, unless of course you fail the test.? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test” 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. Now with the knowledge that Christ is in you, take another look at the chaos and devastation the world is going through. The stuff in your garbage bag is going to be left behind. When you arrive in heaven, you will not have any luggage. May God bless and keep you always.

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