There we were, the four of us at a narrow, long table covered with plastic, an old sheet, planting paraphernalia, and dirt, working in a tight spot in the cluttered, wooden, dirt floored garage. My eldest daughter and I stood across from my Uncle Paul and Dad. Paul had asked Dad to help him transplant his seedlings into cups for the next part of their growth journey and he needed help. He’d fallen and broken 3 of his ribs during his last adventure in the garden. Dehydration was the culprit, doctors say. Uncle Paul testified to that, saying he “never drinks water” and now he’s been commanded to drink a gallon a day. He looked tired, said he was in a lot of pain, and has a hurting toe that he told the doctors to snip off. And yet . . .
. . . he was happy, poking his finger in the cups Laura and I filled with potting soil and sinking his tender seedlings. He told us about the tomatoes we were transplanting. They’re called Abraham Lincolns and the way he talks they will grow to be a large, sandwich tomato. We’ll never be able to buy them anywhere because they’re from heirloom seeds. One of my great uncles gave him a seed that grows a plant that produces large, red beans. He’s been growing that for nearly 50 years. If Uncle Paul isn’t a gardener he isn’t anything. He is in a hard place for sure, what with mending and it being planting season and all, but there was joy about him as he played in the dirt and dispensed his knowledge and experience concerning heirloom seeds.
A couple of weeks later would find Bob and me at a real estate auction for an older couple who had gone to our church. The wife passed away a few years ago, the husband just this year. I felt like the human version of the turkey buzzards circling overhead as we stood in the 40 degree temperatures, complete with drizzle, and watched as their belongings were paraded before the gathering of over 100 people. Oh my, the stuff! We had been there for three hours and the auctioneers said it would be another hour before they got to the “inside stuff”.
I looked at the tools, the shovels, the silverware, the fine china and the decorations and listened to the onslaught of, “I know it’s worth fifty dollars but who’ll start with twenty? Twenty dollar, do I hear a twenty?” I thought: Is this what most our lives will amount to? An auction being held in our parking lot while strangers, neighbors, friends, and even family pick through our stuff?
I thought about this even after we came home. Suddenly, a happy thought. I had done a final walk-through the couple’s home before the auction began. I had a mental picture of a room. Actually, at probably no bigger than 4×6, it had likely been a closet. But that was not the purpose it served for as long as I knew Nancy — and that had been a very long time. A red curtain was pulled back at the entry to expose the simple, tiny space. Stained glass paper was on the wall at the far side of the room. This was the sacred. What transpired here would never be found on the auction chopping block. This was Nancy’s prayer room. This was where the truly precious took place. I am sure we witnessed some of the effects of the battles she waged and won there while other prayers have been stored by God Himself, collected until the time is ripe for Him to release the answers to her prayers.
Heirloom seeds, antique tools, jewelry — there’s nothing wrong with any of these things. But they all pale in comparison to the precious. What is the precious? Our faith. And the prayers we pray in that faith. That’s precious. That’s everlasting. That’s priceless.
Join me today as we reevaluate what we hold in such high regard. Let us look at the way we are living today. What does that look like through the lens of eternity? Will we be known for the possessions we leave behind? Or for the investments we have made in eternity?
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36 KJV