The things we leave behind

The Standard November 5, 2020

It is official. My mother is now a resident of eastern North Carolina. After 57 years of being an Annapolitan, as we from Annapolis are called, she has traded the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and Spa Creek for the banks of the Tar River. When my parents sold our home of 40 years, I was much more sentimental about it than Mom was. Downsizing was not difficult for her. Dishes, furniture, pictures and other items of family significance hold a uniquely special place in my heart, however. Certainly, it is fine to own things which evoke fond memories, but we should live out the fact that people are vastly more important than things. Inviting children and adults into our homes might mean that something gets broken or stained. Even the most beloved and benign-seeming family heirloom can be negative if it displaces our priorities of loving God and loving people. God might call us to give away material things that are important to us or to follow a different occupational path in order to serve more effectively or be more available to those who could use our time or help. The first disciples left everything to follow.

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22)

In “Things We Leave Behind” Michael Card and Scott Roley sing about Simon losing his pride and Matthew forgetting his greed as they stepped up to follow Jesus. Their lyrics provide an important message for many of us today.

“Every heart needs to be set free from possessions that hold it so tight. Freedom’s not found in the things that we own; it’s the power to do what is right. With Jesus our only possession, then giving becomes our delight. And we can’t imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind. We show a love for the world in our lives by worshipping goods we possess. Jesus says, ‘Lay all your treasures aside and love God above all the rest.’ When we say ‘no’ to the things of the world we open our hearts to the love of the Lord and it’s hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind.”

Whether they are attitudes, habits or material possessions, each of us has things we should leave behind. What are they for you?

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