As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind?” (Ecclesiastes 5:15-16 ESV)
Recently, I’ve learned new lessons about stuff. My family is in the process of moving, and with it comes the inevitable inventory-taking of all the items we’ve accrued throughout the years. What has been tucked away into boxes and drawers and on shelves is now being excavated again—just as it was the last time we moved.
This time, however, the approach is different. There’s an eye to truly cutting back, drawing down on everything that’s accumulated through the years. Excess furniture, knick-knacks, duplicate pictures from yesteryear (back when everybody ordered “doubles” of everything), and all the stuff that fills a garage to the rafters (“Do I really need three rakes and that de-humidifier?”).
Little is being spared; even my books are finding new homes—with neighbors, senior centers, local schools, and that bastion of bookhounds everywhere—the used-book store. While this paring down is practical—and a little uncomfortable—(I’m tired of lugging hundreds of pounds of books from place to place); it’s also seems the right thing to do. Why not give somebody else a chance to hold them, smell their aged aroma, and yes, maybe even read them?
Now my record albums—that’s another story.
Certainly, possessions enrich our lives in many ways, and I’m thankful for them. But this time of scaling back has been refreshing. With the trimming of some “dead wood,” has come a liberation. This clearance has widened my horizon, inspiring me not to get so bogged down in stuff—regardless of how beautiful and familiar it is.
In plain language, the writer of Ecclesiastes gives us the bare-bones truth; we carry nothing forward from this world—no matter how strong our grip. As helpless as we arrived, so will we exit. These can be hard words to hear when the bells and whistles of this world distract but, mercifully, God wants us to possess something more, Someone more, right now, in this world.
It is then we remember what God the Father has given us in Jesus. In His Son, the Father meets all our needs, and every want we could ever imagine.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me (teach me) to release everything I have into Your hand. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. If you have moved before, what was your favorite/least favorite part about doing that?
2. Do you have some possessions you feel you can’t do without? What are they?
3. Is there any big or important thing you’ve gotten rid of due to moving? What was it?