A friend of mine relayed a story recently about Ray Stedman, a well-known American pastor from the 20th century. He had flown to a speaking engagement (remember the good old days, when people actually flew places?), and the airline lost his luggage (we don’t miss that part!). In that culture, preachers didn’t get up to speak without wearing a suit – and he didn’t have one, thanks to the airline.
Stedman asked his host what could be done, and the host pastor said he would arrange to get Stedman a suit in which to preach the next morning, making note of his measurements.
When the suit was delivered to the hotel, Stedman dressed, and tried to put his wallet in a pocket. Much to his amazement, he realized the suit had no pockets in the jacket or even in the pants!
He mentioned this to his host pastor, who quickly admitted that the suit had been acquired from a local funeral home!
This was a suitable reminder for Stedman, as for us, that ‘you can’t take it with you.’
I’m often amazed at the stories I hear – and sometimes witness – about people wanting to be buried with some sort of treasure that mattered to them, whether money or things. But they will do us no good in the afterlife. The only thing we can bring with us when we die, that will do any good, is faith.
As we are reminded when we sing the old hymn by Augustus Toplady, Rock of Ages, “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling!”
So rather than filling our proverbial barns and buying more when they are full, we can invest in opportunities that will enable more people to carry faith into the afterlife. The dividends paid by that will last for eternity.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6.19-21, NLT).