Points to Ponder/Assessing the Eternal Value of Our Todays
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
It was a year and a day since my dad died when I happened to be in Baltimore City - my birthplace and childhood home. It was a bluecollar neighborhood in South Baltimore. Most of the families were low income or fixed income then. Our little row house was a “holy” place, but not in the religious sense - it had holes in the walls and in the floors. Mom and Dad were practically newlyweds and this was their first house. I was raised there, attended public schools, and learned about hard work from watching my parents build a home with sweat equity and a few dollars at a time as they went.
My dad remodeled our house at 123 East Randall, mostly by himself. Sometimes if he could afford to waste the time and material, he would let me help. He gutted the downstairs and the kitchen, opened the stairway, and paneled the whole thing. It was the “in thing” in those days to cover the exterior of row houses with form stone (a stone-like, sandy colored brick facade). We had that too. All of this took about 10 years.
Several months ago I had driven by there and saw one of those huge, car-length dumpsters out front. The new owners were gutting it again. My most recent drive-by was quite startling.
The form stone is gone, replaced by a colonial brick look, with shutters. With the front door open, I could see that the staircase had been moved. The whole inside was new. It looked really good. In its newness, I could see that every trace of its former condition and appointments were gone. I was impressed and would have loved to have taken a tour.
It occurred to me that all the work and the thousands of hard-earned dollars my dad put into that formerly deteriorating old house was now in that dumpster out front. That got me to thinking about Jesus’ warning against pouring our energy - our lives - into the accumulation of earthly treasures. Not that they are bad things or that the effort is wasted, but we must keep all of life in its proper perspective.
My whole neighborhood, as well as my former home address - as I had known them - are practically gone. It only took about 25 years. That was then, and then is gone. Today is proceeding into history at the same speed; therefore, I am driven to assess the eternal value of my todays.
The dumpster in front of our former home reminds me that that’s pretty much where all of my earthly treasures will wind up. I actually find a sense of freedom in embracing that truth. Knowing that all the stuff that I have and whether I achieve “the American Dream”, and whether I die a rich man does not matter, encourages me. I have come to realize I already am a rich man. Every day I have the unique opportunity to influence the souls God has placed in my life - my children being the most valuable ones God has entrusted to me.
You see, my dad is gone; most of his handiwork is gone; his stuff is mostly gone; and at his former job they replaced the equipment he had used and him as well. What’s left of the 67 years of life Marvin Whitmore lived? The souls he touched and the lives he influenced; especially MINE. His wisdom and values are still training up a grandson, even though Dad is physically gone. The legacy is what goes on. It is that vast treasure in Heaven which Jesus said no one can steal or destroy.
It is only taken two or three decades to accumulate and then throw away the stuff we had back then. “Stuff” and earthly pursuits occupy our time and spend away our brief lives. But if we can pour our hearts into the legacy that goes on - the lives of those we love, the souls of those whom God has sent our way, THEN, we gain more then the mere American Dream. We understand what true contentment is, and we realize that the life abundant (John 10:10) is more than having more.
Think. If your most valued treasure is stored up in HEAVEN, you get the benefit of enjoying accumulating it here and then having it all there, “fully matured”, when you finally go home.
Life is pretty good, but eternity is BEST; especially when you have learned how to live in it before you die. If you do not know what I mean, read the Gospel of John.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.