Ari and I were having a conversation a couple days ago about a relative that passed away recently and what was being left for the children in her will. Morgon, our 10-year-old, piped up:
“Dad, when grandpa dies, is he going to leave you a lot of money?”
Ari and I just laughed. We couldn’t help it—that’s just a humorous thought to us. We know that both sets of our parents won’t have much to leave, if anything, in the way of material wealth. But one thing we already have that is part of the real treasure they are leaving behind is that that has never even been a concern of ours.
You see, our parents have lost just about everything they had, or ever had a shot at, in the way of success. They did so deliberately, because they chose to squander their lives on our Lord, just as Mary squandered all of her wealth, her oil of pure nard, by pouring it out on Christ.
It sounds great when I put it like that. But when it started, and all throughout the process, most people looked at them and what they were trying to do and asked, “Why are you doing this?” That abandonment and pouring out isn’t ever a comfortable thing to do. It’s usually downright painful. They left families, jobs, possessions, houses, land, security and reputations, and were counted as fools, crazy, ignorant, unloving, and worse.
So, why would they do that?
Because they hungered and thirsted after righteousness. And it’s the path which God takes those who hunger down in order to make them satisfied.
Ari answered Morgon,
“No, grandpa’s probably not going to leave us anything. But that’s ok.”
“Dad, what about when you die? Are you going to leave us anything?” Ronan, our 7-year-old, asked.
We laughed again, but not so hard this time. This strikes a bit closer to home. And it’s been something I turn over in my head occasionally.
I want to be a good parent. I want good things for my kids. They are talented, smart, promising young men. I, just like you, have a whole world screaming it’s ideas of what is ‘necessary’ and ‘best’ into my ears, and it’s impossible not to feel that pressure. It would be easier for them to feel secure and not have to struggle to live here. But more than wanting what’s good, I want what’s best for them, and I know that doesn’t come from striving after material things.
We don’t own much. That’s on purpose.
I don’t have a 401k plan. That’s on purpose, too.
We have chosen to walk a path where God has specifically asked us to lay our security on the altar, and to put our trust in Him.
I want my boys to know how to cry out, “Where’s the God of Elijah?” and to have to rely on God to back them up when they beat the waters with their cloaks.
My hope is that they are going to see, just as we did, parents who are squandering their lives on the only One worth losing everything for.
Maybe they’ll have money. Maybe they’ll own properties. Maybe they’ll be wealthy. Maybe we’ll be granted to leave some of those things for them, I don’t know. But if they do obtain these things, our hope is that it won’t mean a hill of beans to them, but that their focus will be on doing the Will of the Father, and all these things which have been added to them—because of putting the Kingdom and it’s righteousness first—will be servants and tools of that purpose.
Ari and I have already decided what we’re leaving our boys (and girl, hopefully?) when we leave this earth; it’s going to be the same thing that our folks have already imparted in us: a deep, abiding love of our Father, and the passion to obey him and abandon everything for him. And the wisdom to not go after earthly treasures, but eternal.
Is that a waste? I don’t think so.
In parting, I leave you a couple of my favorite quotes by people I really respect to think on:
“When I die, if I leave behind me ten pounds … you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.”
“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”