Sheer Opulence

biltmore-estate-christmas-scheduleEarlier this week, Glenn and I had the chance to tour the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, North Carolina with a dear brother and sister in the Lord. It was a great time and I got my wish for snow! For today’s post, I want to share three lessons I pondered as I walked though sheer opulence.

First. Glenn walked around a corner and said these words (They need no commentary.):  “If man can make a mansion like this, what must heaven be like?”  I just like to think and think and think some more about that.

Second, material wealth is so relative. I think I know some pretty rich people….until I walk through the Biltmore. Then the people that have a lot of money, according to my standards, seem to have a paltry sum. But the wealth in Jesus is infinite to every believer. I love the level spiritual “playing field.” As it has been said many times, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. I am rich beyond imagination and so are you, if you are in Christ.

Third, I loved imagining the servants who lived in the simple quarters in the basement. I loved hearing, on my headset, about their lives in that mansion. They were paid New York wages in the early 20th century in North Carolina, a circumstance unheard of anywhere else in the southeast United States. They had plenty to eat and it was cooked by a real chef. They had heated quarters and they were provided beds and linens and then they were free to decorate their little rooms as they pleased. They even had access to an indoor bath just down the hall. Mrs. Vanderbilt made sure all of the servants and their children had a Christmas surprise each year.

Now, my grandmothers were raising their children during that same era. One of my grandmothers was a sharecropper’s wife and neither of my grandmothers had indoor plumbing until quite late in their lives. My father, a lad in the twenties, was very happy over a stick of candy or an orange at Christmas time. One of my uncles, a tiny boy, proudly brought in a rotten potato found on the sidewalk during the worst time of poverty in his little life and handed it to his mother saying “Praise the Lord…put it there.” There were some pretty hard times for many families during the early part of the twentieth century in this country. I’m sure my grandmothers would have basked in the servant’s quarters at the Biltmore had they had an opportunity. The servants at the Biltmore were never hungry, cold or destitute.

I think of the spiritual condition of servants in My father’s house. In His house, even in the basement, in the quarters of the servants, there is plenty.  Many people I know are spiritually cold and hungry and destitute and they don’t even know it. Perhaps they need to come to themselves like that boy in the far away country and say, “How many servants in my father’s house have bread enough and to spare and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 16:17,18).

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