"our stuff"{a story shared by John Adams}

by john adams (via jason c dukes) on February 23rd, 2012

Perhaps it was because I have not been employed in ministry since October, 2011 that I experienced the following spiritual journey. After all, the best of us feel vulnerable when we are awaiting our next place of service accompanied by salary, benefits and fulfillment. On the other hand, who, other than the Lord or the Old Testament prophet Daniel, understands the meaning of our unconscious thoughts? Perhaps it all happened for the benefit of others besides me! With that in mind, here’s my dream and its possible meaning for me and you.

Shortly before awakening the morning of February 20, 2012, I dreamed that Cheryl and I returned to our home and discovered 15-20 burglars preparing to carry away our possessions.

I quickly found a rolling pin I had created on my turning lathe a few years ago, grabbed it with murderous intent and asked her to call 911. A moment later after I had landed a few feeble and unproductive blows with my hardwood weapon, I overheard her talking on her cell phone to a girlfriend asking her to pray for us because people were carrying off our household goods.

Highly frustrated with her, I asked her once again to call 911, stating “These people are going to get away if you don’t get the police here in time!” Sometimes you want your wife to pray but other times you want her to call the police first!

The police didn’t arrive before I woke up so I spent the first few minutes of my bleary morning ridding myself of the irrational irritation that had developed while I did mortal combat with the unwelcome thieves wondering when the authorities would arrive to carry away the villainous mob.

When I was alert again and realized the irrational nature of my anger, I recalled more of my dream. As is true of most dreams, it was humorous when viewed in the light of day and yet contained elements that stimulated spiritual examination and reflection.

I recalled coming to a point of complete exasperation with the burglars shortly before I awoke at which point I looked my enemies in the eyes and announced with as much boldness as I could, “Go ahead. Take away all my stuff. When you are finished, I will have more left than you have taken away from me and you will have less than you had before you robbed me.”

I remember thinking in my dream that I sounded like the preacher that I am. When I woke up and was trying to sort out what it all meant, I remembered wondering during my dream if I actually live the truth of what I said to the thieves.

I knew that at least in my head I believed what I said because none of us should be defined by the “stuff’ we have, but I also understood more clearly that “stuff” has value for all of us. Otherwise we who own “stuff” wouldn’t protect it from potential loss and thieves would not want to carry it away when we are not guarding it.

The lesson my dream underlined was that unconsciously I remembered the Biblical truth about “stuff” or, otherwise stated, what is truly most important in life. If a thief takes your “stuff” away, the “stuff” that has eternal value in your life remains intact. A Christian’s “business” is to send treasure on to heaven that can be enjoyed throughout eternity. Thieves can’t carry that treasure away. We can lose our “stuff” and survive.

In fact, when the thief carries away your earthly treasure to claim it as his own, he has less of what matters in life with each additional heist. The more earthly wealth he steals, the more spiritually impoverished he becomes thus a Christian can and should say, “Go ahead. Take away all my “stuff.” When you are finished, I will have more left than you have taken away from me and you will have less than you had before you robbed me.”

So this dream was about earthly “stuff” and how it can become a substitute for God.

“Stuff” can bring us a poverty of spirit that robs us of real life. Loss of our “stuff” can become a stepping stone to spiritual richness if it sets us free to focus on our relationship with God. I suspect that was the spiritual pilgrimage Jesus invited the “rich young ruler” to take when he told him that he lacked only one thing – “give away everything you have and follow me.”

Like that young man, you and I live in a materialistic world where “stuff” is too often viewed as the reward for spiritual correctness – our earned blessing from God because we have been good. This view of “stuff” may be why so many inside and outside of the Church live with a lot of “stuff” and very little peace.

It is also why Satan has given a lot of energy to seducing God’s people with “stuff” and why he takes it away. If he can convince us that peace is available to us once we own enough “stuff,” then he knows what to take away from us first to rob us of our joy. By the way, the more “stuff” you purchase to fill your longing for peace, the less peace you will have. “Stuff” is like salt on your food, the more you add, the more your appetite for salt increases. In the end, too much “stuff” like too much salt will kill you!

Remember the story of Job. Job had the kind of “stuff” most of us desire in life. He had a strong religious life because he wanted to be pleasing to God. He was healthy. He had a large family whose spiritual welfare mattered to him and who must have been among his greatest earthly treasures. He had great wealth and a good reputation in the community.

Who among us does not dream of being Job, that is Job before Satan began to rob him of his “stuff.” As disturbing as his story is to read, the point seems to me to be that he was permitted to learn the true value of his faith relationship with God. When all the speeches were completed, both those by human actors and by God, Job learned that to know God personally in the midst of great loss was to discover the greatest peace life has to offer.

Again, “stuff” doesn’t bring peace. Knowing God brings peace. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the “stuff” you allow me to possess during my brief years on earth. Help me to always be grateful for the benefits of being a steward of “your stuff’ while I am awaiting my promotion to Heaven. If you should choose to allow Satan to steal my “stuff,” guard my spirit from becoming so attached to “stuff” that I forget what is most important in life, my personal walk with you. Amen.

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