The preacher came to check on me today. His brother passed away last week, but he came to check on me.
He’s not my pastor. Well, what I mean is, he’s not the man who is the pastor of the fellowship where I attend services. My pastor checks on me too, but I’m not writing about him today.
The preacher came to visit me because he owes me. That’s the way he sees it anyway. It’s his way of paying a debt.
Did you know that on the worst day of his life, Jesus stopped to help a fellow who was just doing his job—and also having a bad day?
Jesus was being arrested, said arrest to be followed by a mock trial and, soon after, a very real execution. Yet, He stopped everything to make life easier for a man He had likely never even seen. (Luke 22:50,51)
He, who was about to die, stopped to heal a slave’s ear.
I marvel at the capacity to love. But, I have seen it again and again. The human heart, pummeled and battered by loss and sorrow, beats the stronger for those around who also hurt.
Did I say the preacher is paying a debt?
It’s a debt we all owe, one that will not go unsettled.
The Apostle, in giving instructions about temporal matters, gave us the words we must live by. The one debt we will carry throughout our whole lives is the debt to each other—to love one another. (Romans 13:8)
We love—because He loved us first.
And yet, I had other things to speak of with my friend. You see, I am struggling with many things right now, things I don’t want to accept.
There are people I love making choices I would change for them if I could. I’m sure if I could just lend them a bit of my brilliance, they’d understand and repent of their error.
And, as I suggest that to him, I suddenly remember that I don’t have a mandate to change people.
Lamely, I say the words: I guess that isn’t mine to fix, is it?
He smiles. But, as he smiles, he remembers why he stopped by. I’ve gotten him off track. He knows I’m still unhappy—perhaps even a little angry—at God for the changes which are being made in my life right now.
Looking around the music store where he sits, he waves his hand in a circle and asks a question I really don’t like.
Is this yours?
I don’t like the question because I know the answer. You do too, don’t you?
I smile, a faux-smile if ever there was one. I give him the right answer, the answer I know he wants to hear. I don’t grit my teeth as I say it, even though it is all I can do not to.
No. Not mine.
And then he is gone. He leaves me standing in the doorway of a music store that soon won’t be.
Worse than that, he leaves me with a revelation I didn’t want and never asked him for.
I only want what’s mine!
I’ve sulked all day.
I cleaned my French horn in preparation for upcoming events and the pride I have taken in the beautiful instrument dimmed as I realized it’s not mine.
After I closed the music store (still not mine) for the day, I climbed up into the driver’s seat of my pickup truck and thought, as I turned the key, this isn’t mine.
I helped the Lovely Lady clean up after supper and as a sparkling kitchen reappeared, I realized that none of the beautiful little home is mine.
I only want what’s mine.
I’ve been sitting here moping about what I’ve lost on this day of revelation, thanks to the preacher. I’ve come to a conclusion.
If I can lose it, it was never mine. Never.
You might think it would be a sad realization. It’s not.
The freedom that comes from knowing what is mine and what isn’t is life changing. If my treasure is bound up in things which can be taken from me, I am the poorest man you’ll ever meet.
I only want what is mine.
Faith is mine.
Hope is mine.
Love is mine.
There are more things to add to the list. Gifts, every one of them—given by the Giver of all good things. They are things that can never be taken from us. And, in the words of that great theologian, Casey Stengel, you could look it up. (1 Corinthians 12)
We’re told that the greatest of these gifts is love. The more I consider it, the more certain I am it is true.
Funny, isn’t it? If we can lose it, it isn’t ours, and yet we’re told we must give away love.
So, is love ours or not?
Most decidedly, love is ours. You know what makes love the greatest gift? The more you give it away, the more there is to give away.
God has poured His love into our hearts in a never-ending stream. It should be pouring out in the same manner. (Romans 5:5)
I’m thinking that wealth which can’t be stolen or misplaced is worth more than any treasure trove to be found on this planet.
And, we get to give it away and keep it, too.
Funny. I still only want what’s mine.
And, like my preacher friend, I want to give it away.
Again and again.
Give it away.
Spread love everywhere you go; let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
(Mother Teresa ~ Albanian/Indian nun & missionary ~ 1910-1997)
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.