Estate Sale

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The sign on the door said, “Estate Sale. Doors will open at 9 a.m.” It was already 11:30. We walked in, not because there was a single stick of furniture on our buy list, but because we were curious. And because, unbeknownst to us, there was something we needed to learn.

You know how people are always saying, “You can’t take it with you?” Well, nothing drives that lesson home like taking a look at what got left behind.

Clearly someone had passed away The house was chock full. The stuff had to go. And go it did, for cheap. There wasn’t a whole lot left by 11:30. Fine china, seventy-two matched pieces for about $250, a wooden box of silver plated flatware for $35, T shirts for 50 cents, kitchen spices for a dime.

I bought a butter dish because it matched my grandmother’s set of Fostoria glassware, precious to me and carefully stored in our kitchen for use on special occasions. It cost me five bucks. I could have bought about ten cups and saucers in the same pattern for twenty.

Nothing was sacred or honored or private. Cabinets were flung open, their contents strewn across countertops for viewing by potential customers. And as we walked from room to room, we talked about how someone might have to do this for our home someday. And I wondered how all my precious goods would look to a stream of strangers hunting for bargains. Sobering thoughts at first, but then quite freeing as I began to think about what is really important.

No, you can’t take it with you. And oddly, once you’re gone it doesn’t really look worth taking anyway. Matthew 6:19 teaches us about the relative worthlessness of all the things we strive to collect in this life, warning us us not to “store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”

Instead, we’d better make sure we’re storing up our treasures in heaven the way the Good Book says, because everything else? It’s just stuff.

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