My father loved to work with his hands. When he was not in the pulpit or studying, one of his favorite things to do was carpentry - - and he was good. I remember as a child, watching him work on a bunk bed he was building for me. It was a massive, sturdy bed that towered above me, with intricate routed carvings of horses and cowboys. I remember marveling at it and thinking, "Wow. My dad built that."
Over the years he had gathered a rather large collection of carpentry tools, some quite expensive. He was very protective of his tools and went to great lengths to take care of them. Sometimes when I would help him, my childish ignorance of the value of things prevented me from being as careful as he would have preferred in handling his tools and he let me know about it very firmly. Eventually I knew to lay the saws, hammers and other implements of the craft down gently, not simply toss them or drop them haphazardly when I was done working with them. He considered them an investment and wanted me to learn how to respect and care for things that were valuable to others.
When my father died, he and I were working outside. We were putting up a fence around some rental property when he collapsed with a massive heart attack. In the course of about 20 minutes he was dead. Later that night as my family and friends gathered at the house to comfort my mom and I, it dawned on me that all of his tools had simply been left on the ground. Then the realization hit me that they no longer mattered. They were now insignificant to him. They could lay there and rust and my father couldn't care less.
We live in a world consumed with what it can possess, and when we possess it we immediately set our focus on obtaining more. We error by trying to live in a balance between what is physical and what is spiritual. The vitality of the Christian walk consists in the very act of being unbalanced with the bulk of the weight in favor of what is spiritual.
1 John tells us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV)
I must live in this world, but this world must not live in me. My affections cannot center around that which is temporal. Anything I put my heart into becomes precious and valuable to me, and as my love for it grows, it eventually becomes an integral part of the foundation of my identity as a person. My identity, security and self-worth is only as secure as that which it is built on. When the object of my affection is removed, lost or dies, a part of who I am goes with it.
We must live with the realization that nothing physical in this world will last. It's not a question of IF it will end, but WHEN. Our identity then must lie in the things of eternity and ultimately in the One who inhabits eternity. A person grounded and formed in God will never be shaken because God Himself will never be shaken. When my heart is set on the things of God and eternity, I find my true worth. It is only with eternal eyes that we can properly view that which is mortal. An accurate perspective of Heaven is the only thing that gives us an accurate perspective of earth.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)