I was reminded this week once again how fleeting are the material things that we try to hold on to or keep. I bought an old chair from a local shop in town. This particular dealer deals in everything from garage sale finds to drop-offs at trash bins. When I walked into her shop, she led me to an area in the back.
I browsed a minute, moved some things so I could look deep into the pile of stuff and I suddenly spotted the chair that I wanted — an old chair, made of metal with a wooden seat. So I told her that I had found my item and then I asked her the price.
She said, “How about $2 and you can take it off my hands. Sold!”
As I loaded the chair into the back of my car, something caught my eye — a metal tag affixed on the chair leg. I had seen those tags before because it was the same kind that the schools once used for inventory.
I easily peeled the metal tag off and read it: PROPERTY OF (unnamed church) and then the number 00382 was inscribed in the middle. I thought it so unusual in that the chair had not belonged to a school or the county but a church! There was the church's name, in gray letters on the gold border. I suppose that someone wanted to inventory everything at that church. Maybe they were afraid that some of the parishioners would run off with the chair. But whoever had that idea, felt it important to let people know that the church had certain property and no one better be caught carting it off!
We go to such great lengths to protect what we think belongs to us. I am not referring to protecting our homes and our families or just randomly leaving our keys in the car to anyone can steal the car. Rather I am specifically referring to “things” that become of such importance to us that we “tag” those things and hold them dear: My job, my house, my bank account, my standing in the community, my influence, my status and on and on.
When I went to pull the metal tag off, I was looking to put out a little effort. But because so much time has passed, it just slid off with a little push. It was not in fact stuck for good, impenetrable, or sealed to the chair. With time, it had lost its adhesiveness and lost its value.
Much dust has blown over the road since that person had all the church furnishings of that church inventoried. Many parishioners have died, and no doubt the majority of the members now have no idea about whose idea it was back then to inventory anything. The church has even moved locations. Now the chair, so important that it was inventoried, was found in a heap pile of dilapidated furniture long thrown away and long forgotten.
Churches change, people on the board of those churches die, the pastors die or move on, the membership grows older and new people come in and no one knows of the old “founders” or charter members. With time, everything changes.
Time changes things — time is a constant and it is always in a state of change. Things we think are indestructible one day are gone in time.
Malachi 3:6 reads, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” The good news is that God loves us; we are not like inventory to him and the only label he puts on us his stamp of ownership when we accept Jesus Christ. That is eternal no matter what is going on here on earth.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: