I picked up a few bricks from an old farmhouse during our visit to North Carolina this weekend. They weren’t just bricks from any old structure. These were from the farmhouse where my mother grew up. Built in 1928 by my grandfather, Tobias File, it became the central hub of their 180 acres of farm and timber land. With a windmill, sawmill, gas house and grain mill on the property, they were always on the cutting edge of mechanization back then. Electric lights were the first to come on in their community at their house too. Over the years, Mom has told me countless stories about working in the fields, tending animals and playing with her siblings during her growing up years. I, too, was privileged to share a lot of those same kind of memories because I spent so many of my own hours playing with cousins and helping out on the farm when I was a kid. It was a great place to grow up!
But that was many years ago and the structure, once so full of life, has long been abandoned. Though it’s been badly degraded for decades, I still manage to make my way there occasionally to visit the empty rooms to recall fond memories and recount them to my kids.
This weekend was one of those opportunities to shuffle through and recollect. But this time the visit took on a decidedly different tone since the farm house is scheduled to be demolished in just a few weeks, and I knew it was the last time I’d get to visit this sacred ground of my childhood.
Most everything of value had been removed before we got there, but a few items remained tucked in the corners of the attic, abandoned in musty closets or left behind on shelves in the root cellar. As I pawed through the last remnants, I couldn’t help but take note of the stacks of moth-eaten and yellowed linens, jars of home canned vegetables now darkened with age, and shelves of medicine bottles stored away for no one to retrieve. It’s funny… When those linens were folded, medicines purchased, and the vegetables preserved, someone had intended to for them to be used. But they were saved and stored for a future that never came.
The truth is that we are all working hard to preserve a future that we hope will come one day. While you’re probably not putting things away in dusty jars or stacking them on dingy shelves, every one of us is storing up just the same. You do it every time you purchase an extra box of Cheerios or buy the super-sized pack of paper towels at the warehouse club.
While there’s nothing wrong with saving, none of us really knows what’s ahead, so if left to ourselves, all we can do is guess at what the next year… or the next day… holds.
Jesus knew the temporary nature of life in our world and cautioned His followers against trusting the things in it. Money can be stolen or squandered. Property can be destroyed or damaged. Possessions, lost or ruined. While there are many scriptures that encourage us to plan, we have to be careful not to place our hope and security in what our possessions seem to provide. The only certain future believers can count on is the one promised by God and preserved for us in heaven by faith in Jesus Christ.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal,
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.