It was poignant. Going through Mama’s things. Some of it we recognized, and memories flooded us. The large baking sheet my daddy always used at Thanksgiving, when he made his homemade yeast rolls. The cast iron Aunt Jemima bank that was always in the kitchen. Mama’s needlepoint hanging on the wall.
Other things were a mystery. Maybe gifts from friends? Or from an old aunt who had downsized? The most heart wrenching of all, though, was the pile of trash. Years of accumulated “stuff.” To be thrown out. Into the garbage. Gone. Like Mama. There has to be more! My heart ached. I knew my Mama was more than piles of trash. I knew she was more than stuff. She was a living human being who had touched peoples lives. And yet, these garbage bags, and a few mementos were all that remained. I could touch these things, but they weren’t Mama. They weren’t her hands I could hold, or her voice I could hear each week saying “Hey darlin’!” They weren’t her advice or wisdom I would always ask for.
“Mama, I’m planting petunias, will they come back next year?”
“Well, darlin’, they may. Are you planting or setting out?”
“Um, I don’t know – what’s the difference?”
Turns out, planting is starting a plant from seed. Setting out is planting a seedling, or young plant. Oh, and did you know that hot water sets the stain? And if you gargle with warm salt water, your sore throat goes away. And Vicks Vapor Rub is the go-to home remedy for a chest cold.
Wonderful memories. Memories that will fade away in time. Temporary. King David recognized this. In 1 Chronicles 29:15 he said “We are sojourners before you, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” (NASB, NLT).
A sojourner, a tenant…leaving no trace behind. And that’s it? At the end of our lives, there will be no trace, nothing left? In the words of the apostle Paul “May it never be!”
Packing up Mama’s house made me realize that I don’t want my life to vanish. I don’t want to leave behind just a pile of stuff. I want to make a difference.
Max Lucado said it best in God’s Story, Your Story: “You are so much more than a few days between the womb and the tomb.”
In order for our days here on earth to count, we must make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16). Don’t sleepwalk through this life! Live aware, with eyes wide open for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus:
- Mow the grass for the neighbor whose yard is overgrown. Give a helping hand. See the opportunity, not the aggravation.
- Respond in kindness, not in kind, to the cranky store clerk.
In addition to having our eyes wide open, we should hold our hands wide open…not clinging too tightly to the things of this world.
Jesus said “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
Warren Wiersbe sums the scripture up this way: “It is not wrong to possess things, but it is wrong for things to possess us…What does it mean to lay up treasures in heaven? It means to use all that we have for the glory of God.”
Using all that we have for the glory of God! What an opportunity to leave a legacy of spiritual riches, not worldly possessions.
Photos by John Chauvin
Copyright 2014 Ellen Chauvin, Ordinary…with a Splash of Flash