If it’s spring in America, someone is going to get hit with floods unfortunately. Years ago, I think it was April 1997, North Dakota got hit hard – especially in the area around Grand Forks, North Dakota. One woman who had to flee her home was interviewed by a reporter. She was eating her lunch in a school shelter where hundreds of victims were bivouacked. She must have surprised that reporter when she said, “You know, I feel very fortunate.” I mean, after all, what had been her home only a day before was now awash in sewage and fuel. Then she gave her reasons for feeling fortunate. And you often hear this after a disaster. She just said, “My children are all safe. The rest is just stuff.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Just Stuff.”
Now, that’s a woman who, in the midst of losing a lot, had sorted out some of life’s really core values. That’s what God is calling us to do in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 2:15. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him … The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
If God were teaching us in a classroom setting, He might draw a line down the center of the chalkboard and He’d put these headings at the top of each column: “Stuff that doesn’t last” and “Stuff that does last.” And He says to not get too attached to earth-stuff because it “passes away.”
Our great love, our great passion, and our great pursuit should be for the “will of God” things that we can’t lose. The rest is “just stuff.” It’s all part of Jesus’ command to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), even though we’re surrounded by people who are totally consumed with getting possessions, getting promotions, getting prosperity, or getting prominence.
Actually, we’ve found that two of the most liberating words in the English language are these: “Earth stuff.” Yep, over and over, my wife and I found ourselves saying those two words to regain our perspective in tough financial times, when something broke or got lost, or when we were trying to make some difficult choices. It just helps to stand back, look at what’s really at stake, and be able to sort out what is “just earth stuff.” It actually frees you from so much worry, anxiety and misplaced effort.
My life was profoundly affected by something that happened when I was becoming a teenager. Five American missionaries were martyred in their attempt to reach a tribe in the jungles of Ecuador; a tribe who had never heard the name of Jesus. Later, the widow of one and the sister of another went to that tribe to tell them about Jesus. Today, much of the Auca or Waodani Tribe knows Christ, and the murderers of the missionaries are the leaders of the Waodani church. Thousands of people are in God’s work today, including me, because of the challenge of their example.
Jim Elliot, one of the martyred missionaries, sorted out the ultimate values in life in a powerful statement he wrote once. Here’s what he said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Well, that’s it right there.
Either you live for the things you cannot ultimately keep, or you live for the things you can never lose. So which ones are you pursuing?