“And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:16-21, King James Version
We live in a society or culture that is constantly telling us to prepare for the future. Prepare for a rainy day! Prepare for retirement! Many work an entire lifetime to only enjoy a few years of retirement, if they are lucky enough to have that. Many work all of their adult lives to afford extravagant toys, large houses, fast cars, and fancy clothing.
I have recently been confronted with questions that many of you have asked yourselves at some point in life. “What do I have saved for my future? What sort of inheritance will I be able to leave my children? Will my spouse be financially secure when I am gone?” My wife and I recently found out we are expecting twins. This raises a ton of questions about the future. One child makes you think about things. Two children makes you think about all those things a little bit harder! With a daughter already in her late teens, two on the way, and being forty years old, I am asking myself those hard questions now more than ever.
I know of some who have passed away in recent years. We all do. Some spent all of their adult lives preparing and building their kingdom. They created a dynasty for themselves, with the hopes like everyone else, that they would be able to someday sit back and enjoy the splendor they’ve worked so hard to accumulate. But, just like all of us, life happens. We can’t predict it, don’t want to expect it, but we can’t delay it. We are thrown curveballs. Life takes an unexpected turn. The years we spent so long to prepare for never come. If we are blessed to be able to live a long life and enjoy that nest-egg we saved for, chances are we won’t be able to enjoy it enough to pay for the years we spent working to build it.
In 1857, the financial market in the United States collapsed. Overnight, men went to bed dreaming and counting their riches, only to wake up the next morning bankrupt. Everything they had prepared for and saved was gone.
All this sounds kind of grim, doesn’t it? I’m not trying to make anyone second guess saving and preparing for the future. I’m also not trying to say we should squander all we have today and not save for tomorrow. No, that would be foolish and unwise. What I am saying is what this parable is saying. Better yet, I am asking. Where are your riches? What have you invested in? Has all your money gone to pay for the fancy car that will rust away? Have you built or purchased your dream home, that overnight could burn to the ground? Have you built a bank account that will go to someone else to spend when you die? Even if you spend it all, none of the things you purchase will go with you. Someone else will inherit your money or possessions, and while they may be thankful for it in the present, they will soon want more. Your money and your possessions won’t be enough.
Why are we foolish and always desiring more? Why do we spend so much time working and away from family, only to have it vanish in an instant? Is the money and time away from family worth it, if you lose your family as a result? Is the money and time worth it, if you sacrifice your health in the process? But hundreds of thousands of people are doing it every single year, despite the impending outcome.
While 2020 has definitely thrown us some curveballs and punched us in the face with things we never expected, it has also provided us with some invaluable lessons. For me personally, it has pushed me to return to the basics in life. To get back to the smaller things in life. The things that maybe didn’t seem to matter before, but really end up mattering the most. The events of this year have caused me to slow down a bit, be a little more aware of those things around me, observe more, listen more, talk less, and cherish the irreplaceable things in this life. It has also made me focus even harder on those things which carry eternal weight.
In the parable above, Jesus calls the rich man a fool, and states that even that night, his soul would be required of him. When I read it, it made me think of my own life. One minute after my soul enters eternity, will I have any regrets? Will I wish I worked more? Will I wish I spent more time away from family? No, of course not. So if I could look back after this heart stops and body dies, and know the things I would do differently, and can name them off one by one, why am I not doing them now?
Why aren’t we all?