Our possessions not really ‘ours’

Curtis Shelburne

We humans are so full of ourselves. We incessantly strut and preen, spout and sputter, spew and spray forth all manner of self-important nonsense, and the Father hearing his kids so solemnly hold forth must laugh.

One day the curtain will be pulled back, and we’ll see clearly for the first time. I suspect our reaction to our own pomposity will be something akin to perusing our old high school pictures. We thought we were so cool, but good grief!

Much we consider so normal and ordinary that we hardly think about it at all is proof, on the rare occasions when we actually do stop to think, of how puffed up we are.

We talk, for example, about “owning” land. And I suppose for keeping land-grabbing barbarians at bay, supporting the good order of commerce, gorging the government on taxes, and contributing to supposedly civilized bean-counting on any number of levels, that’s necessary. (Hey, I’m all for free enterprise!)

But, when you think about it, a human arrogantly boasting about all the land he owns is ultimately as comic as a bloated flea pompously expostulating on owning its dog. Had Heaven not raised us to the higher view of reality, even the six-foot holes we buy for the eventual disposal of our carcasses might more truly be said to own us. And, in Heaven’s ironically humorous economy, that’s every bit as true whether we presently own Microsoft or beg for a bed at the homeless shelter. This “owning” business is fraught with both frustration and humor.

Someone might say that I “own” my dog. I know better. It’s far more accurate to say that she owns me. I come when she calls. I open the door at Her Highness’ bidding. I bathe her (unless I procrastinate long enough that my wife breaks down and bathes the little beast herself). I feed her, pay for her grooming, pet her, talk baby talk to her (I red-facedly admit), take her to the vet, welcome her out of her pet carrier in the morning, and obediently go through the routine she has prescribed for her care in the evening. I own her. Yeah, right.

Most of the stuff I own owns me. And most of it gives me far less pleasure than the aforementioned furball.

What makes me wealthy and what makes life worth living are things I could never truly own, never truly control (and that’s the real issue). My family, my friends, the sunrises and sunsets God keeps on giving.

I bustle about, rush around, stress out, focus on folderol. I spend so much time looking through the wrong end of the telescope. No wonder my view is so distorted.

And in what may be Heaven’s best blessing and biggest joke on humans—whether we’re captains of industry, Fortune 500 CEO’s, garbage collectors, folks who flip fortunes or folks who flip burgers—eventually we all have to lie down and sleep. We all have to trust the One who truly owns this world to keep the globe spinning, our heart beating, and time marching on.

Our eyelids droop, we nod off, and Heaven smiles, or laughs. It’s a good sign if, thinking about that, we do, too.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at ckshel@aol.com