Friday, October 27, 2006

Gone, Baby, Gone

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?" (2 Peter 3:10,11)

Harsh words -- but profoundly true, nonetheless. Look around you. Everything will burn up one day. True enough, if the world lasts much longer, it will turn to dirt first but eventually the End of Time Barbecue will get it. This shouldn't surprise us... but it always does! A quick glance will show most of us that things change; they get old, worn out, and tossed aside.

When I want to buy a new car, I make myself do something else first. I go and spend a week or two walking around used car lots -- not the nice kind with well lit offices and smiling salesmen, but those that are behind high wire with dogs patrolling the area topped by signs saying "We finance everybody!", "Bankruptcy? No problem!", "Trespassers will be shot on sight!"

The time spent there reminds me that every one of these cars represented a dream for someone. They thought about that car, wanted it so much that they were distracted at work or home, did the research and picked that car. They thought it would make their life happier... and maybe it did, for awhile, but not anymore. Pick up a Penny Shopper or any other local personal sales paper and see how many people want to get rid of the same stuff they couldn't wait to buy not that long ago. The items went from "this will make me happy" to "what will you take for it?" Somewhere there are still closets full of Beanie Babies, Pogs, and Troll dolls someone thought would make them a fortune or, at least, fund their retirement.

There is an echo of this cosmic fact creeping into our culture. When my son takes me into Hollister or Abercrombie and Fitch (this doesn't happen often. The staff usually requests I go elsewhere) I gaze upon the shredded jeans, the shirts with frayed collars and seams, the faded hoodies -- all of which could have been worn by someone run over by a combine harvester -- and it finally dawns on me: this is just Goodwill with better lighting.

[helpful hint: Why pay $4 to have a shirt dry cleaned? Donate it to the Salvation Army. They'll clean it and you can buy it back the next day for $1. Also -- why does our local Salvation Army store have a sign up that says "no $100 bills accepted"? How often does that come up? I asked the guy behind the counter when was the last time he had someone try to pay with a hundred dollar bill. He said never... but he was pretty sure that was because they had a sign]

Change is everywhere. I asked a classroom full of college students yesterday if they had any CDs in their collection they would be embarrassed to admit to. A lot of hands went up. There are still a lot of Backstreet Boys, Debbie Gibson, and New Kids on the Block CDs out there, hiding. Let's keep them that way, shall we?

Tuesday morning I entered my office and realized that something was terribly wrong. The two guitars I keep there were gone. It didn't take long to find out it wasn't someone's idea of a joke and that no one had borrowed them without permission. They were stolen, heisted, gone, baby, gone. I thought "Heck." (for those of you who don't know, "heck" is where people go when they don't believe in "gosh.") My first suspicions were that a music critic had heard me play them and sworn to better the world by removing the WMDs (metaphorically speaking) from my office. This concept was shot down when I saw that the thieves left two ukuleles behind.

I sensed: this is a test. Do you really believe in 2 Peter 3:10,11? Can you let them go quietly with the full realization that they were just kindling for the end of the world anyway? I sat down and read Matthew 6:19-21 again where Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth, but to put them in heaven. What most of us hear is the first part -- not the second part. I've been told all my life that "you can't take it with you" but that's not true. We can't take physical things, but we can take our experiences, the relationships that changed us, our gains in knowledge, and our desire to love and serve with us from this world to the next.

You take there what you've made of your life here. Heaven seems to be a busy place -- not some eternal cosmic worship service, but the next and final stage in our service. What we learn and do here will help us up there. When I get to heaven, I will still light up at the thought of my daughter, son and wife. When I see them I will run to them in joy for, you see, I will take my love for them with me. This almost became a reality yesterday as a woman in an SUV didn't see that the light was red and barreled towards me at 60mph. When I saw her realize the coming disaster (she was close enough that I saw her eyes popping wide), I saw her tires light up as she stomped her brakes. She skidded this way and that and I had to punch the accelerator and run the light as she came spinning behind me -- not stopping until she was eighty feet past the light she'd failed to notice until it was almost fatally too late.

What would I have taken with me? Not the guitars, that's for sure. I would have taken my love for my family, for the church universal and local (bye, Rochester!), and for the Lord and His goodness. You see, some things will NOT burn up. Some things will NOT turn to dirt. Who we have become and the good works we do, our prayers and our love, THAT remains forever in the storehouse of heaven.

Take some time to review 2 Peter 3. I need to go now. I have to pick up some things I can take with me... and set in place some things that will remain after I am gone.


At 10/27/2006 10:14:00 AM , Blogger ma2mnyblessings said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog for some time now but haven't taken the time to leave a comment. My mother died a month ago after finding out she had cancer. Diagnosed and then gone within 6 weeks. She was a wonderful Christian, mother, wife, and pastors wife. All of this said because it helped to read your comment,

"When I get to heaven, I will still light up at the thought of my daughter, son and wife. When I see them I will run to them in joy for, you see, I will take my love for them with me."

I was crying missing her last night....wondering if she thinks of me. Of course I know she is too busy worshiping and praising the Lord for me to be too much in her thoughts, but your words still helped.

Thank you for taking the time to blog. I'm reading even if I don't comment. =o)

At 10/27/2006 11:41:00 AM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

First, to "ma2mnyblessings" -

I send prayers to you and your family in the death of your mother. My mom is 84 1/2 and in good health - MUCH better than mine - but I dread the day (for my sake) when she moves on because I know how much I'll miss her. But Patrick is right, I deeply believe, about how things will be for us and what values will be lasting and that is very comforting to me already.

Patrick -

Maybe someone was just trying to keep you from going off the deep end over instrumental music or else they had the urge to do so themselves. I know - they left the ukuleles, but those probably don't have much of a re-sale value if they were deep down, die hard thieves.

They didn't take anything else? Strange.

Good post, Patrick. As always. I've been unloading phsyical acquistions for years now and am still going about it. It's very freeing to me to do so. You know - you can't even GIVE most stuff away. Good stuff! It's amazing. Even the poorest among us seem to be above most second hand goods. Have you ever noticed how full and jam packed Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are? At least around here. It's amazing.

At 10/27/2006 12:06:00 PM , Blogger Pete Grant said...

Yes, all things we can see shall pass away. But dang…. The guitars??? This makes me mad on a few’ levels. One, you’re just too cute and lovable NOT to feel somewhat protective of. Two, I truly understand what it is to have a personal possession that brought real joy be taken from me. Three, how many MORE life lessons will it take for me to get to where you are….. and then obviously still need more cause they take my tattoo guns?!?!?

If you would like, I am pretty sure there are some scruffy people that would be ready and willing to hand out some Vandal style justice.

In all honesty… I am very sorry. I am however very glad the car missed! There is way too much left for you to do here. Besides, you can’t get all of us in this much trouble, just to go to the Head Office.

Thanks for being the person you are. I (along with the rest of the scruffs) do love you dearly.


At 10/27/2006 12:54:00 PM , Blogger Stoogelover said...

Speaking of heck, I wrote a wonderful response only to see it ousted by Dee's response and disappear forever into cyber-heck.
From a guy who has too many guitars (and a $1,000 Fender ukele, not that I would pay that for it, but that was the appraised value), my condolences on the loss. A thief broke into our house earlier this year and knocked over my "can't be replaced" banjo and left my "can be replaced but I would have been sad because it was brand new" Les Paul. I went to the same scriptures and found peace. I also would like to think I would have found the same peace had my instruments been taken. Had a college psych prof say if we can use the word "heaven(ly)" to describe our emotions or an object, then why not use the other extreme of eternity? I agree, though he was one weird dude.

At 10/27/2006 03:18:00 PM , Blogger That Girl said...

That makes me happier than anything I've ever read about Heaven!

At 10/27/2006 03:31:00 PM , Anonymous Danny Gill said...

They left the ukes? Musical slovens, obviously. I heard George Harrison's son say that George never traveled anywhere without two ukeleles.

I'm sorry you suffered guitar loss, but I'm happier that you know it's all going away one day. Like I told the young lady who pulled out in front of me and hit my truck, "It's just stuff."

At 10/28/2006 04:55:00 PM , Anonymous Annette said...

Put on a Hawaiian shirt, breakout the pineapple and the fruity drinks with umbrellas in them, and serenade your “girlfriend” with an island tune on the ukulele! She’ll love it, (well she will at least get a laugh out of it.) Then you get to have the last laugh on the guitar thieves! And you’ll have one more great moment with your family to take with you someday.

At 10/29/2006 02:21:00 PM , Anonymous TinaMarie said...

Wow, God is always busy protected us!! (The car missing you, I can't speak to your ability to play the guitar.) Thank you for the reminder of what is really important while on this earth. Life can be a bit distracting.

At 10/30/2006 06:37:00 AM , Anonymous Russel said...

Annette -

Please don't encourage him with the hawaiian shirts. We get enough of those without much prodding.

At 10/31/2006 03:01:00 PM , Blogger Albone said...

Thanks for the reminder.

The experiences and the lessons learned are far more important (and eternal) than the "stuff".

At 11/02/2006 08:27:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In God's unmatched wisdom He allows us only glimpses of heaven. "Through a glass darkly" is our view. If we could know all that is in store for us I am sure we would become sucidial maniacs, frantic to get there.

But, we are seperated by a razor thin divide from that eternal day. Only one last heartbeat and in a nano second we are in the presence of the Lord.

ma2mnyblessings, find a good Christian Grief group and you will find help and healing.

Patrick, you are the man!

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

At 11/02/2006 09:29:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lost lots of "stuff" this year and right now am faced with losing more, but my faith is stronger than ever and I still have my family, so I consider myself to be very fortunate. Thanks for the reminder.


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