You are the Salt…

It was at an estate sale in small-town, Alabama where I was recently shown the brevity of life and the foolishness of laying up treasures in this place where “moths and rust corrupt” (Matthew 6:19). There must have been a gajillion salt and pepper shakers in this home, lining shelf after shelf: Indian monkeys, flamingoes from Florida, from the basic tin kind you love to have by your stove all the way to Fitz and Floyd Christmas shakers. You would have been hard pressed to think of a common noun for which you could find no related shaker in this house. Of course, each shaker represented a memory to this old couple. Shakers meant places and faces and fun experiences in their aged minds. Most all of them had a story of visiting relatives, Christmas mornings, surfing or bowling or visiting some exotic place. They were just lots and lots of memory handles sitting on shelves with little of practical significance left for the couple, who were now, because of degenerating health, downsizing and moving to the place of their retirement.
And these memory handles now had price stickers on them. Strangers were milling about, picking one up for a moment and then placing it back on the shelf. The prices varied from about two dollars each to about twenty dollars. I purchased some antique milk bottles and Glenn bought a chair. But I kept thinking about all of those salt and pepper-shakers, each one representing a day in the lives of that couple. I thought about what my salt and pepper shaker collection would be like if each set represented a memory for me. It would be large, like theirs, and full of interesting colors and figures. I am blessed.
Knowing that our ladies day this year was themed “Ye Are the Salt of the Earth,” I decided, after making a call back to West Huntsville, to make an offer on 120 pairs of shakers. She was happy to sell that large quantity to me at only 50 cents a pair. I was happy to get them at such a bargain.
Most of all, I was happy to be reminded of some timely lessons about salt-shakers, life’s brevity, salt itself and what’s really important:
  1. Every “treasure” that you purchase in this life will one day belong to another (Ecc. 2:18).
  2. There will come a day when all of our “treasures” will melt with fervent heat (II Pet. 3:10).
  3. The only “collection” you can take with you will be the souls you’ve collected for Him (I Cor. 15:52).
  4. The price of material collections will be reduced as the end of time approaches, whereas the value of those souls remains greater than that of the world’s treasures combined (Mark 8:36).
  5. Your body is merely the salt-shaker. Your soul is the “salt of the earth,” (Matt. 5:13).
  6. Therefore give great attention to the salt, because the shaker, will be on a “shelf” one day in a mausoleum, in an urn, or in some other tomb, having served its purpose and awaiting the resurrection (I Cor. 15:42-44).

“The Problem Was Just Squirrels?!…”

“Well, I kinda wish it was some sort of computer emissions problem or … or  just something a little more technical than squirrels.  I mean if you’re going to pay three hundred -fifty dollars to get your car fixed, you don’t want to say that squirrels ate through the wiring underneath it. It just doesn’t seem right somehow.”

That’s what my husband said the day the technician diagnosed the SUV. We took it to the Honda  Service Center because it would randomly lose it’s umph when pulling out into traffic. Then once it was out in the highway it would do three bunny hops and then proceed.  (It was dangerous, but still comical.) Some sort of system for navigating icy roads was kicking in when roads were clear and without any prompting. And it was the squirrels in our driveway.

Living in rural Madison County comes with its perks (crickets chirping at night, star visibility, legal fireworks displays, traffic free roads and giant oaks in the yard). Until last week we loved watching the squirrels.  The giant oaks provide their winter’s store and their haven for sleep and play. But now when we see them we want our acorns back! How dare those avaricious little floofy-tailed gluttons eat the wiring on the car that feeds them, never even stopping to think about how that’s the very automobile that brought home the insect poison to flush that infestation out of the oak in the front yard; the very oak that dropped the gajillion acorns on the driveway for their bountiful harvest last fall! Did they know that was the very car that brings home fertilizers for their play land and sometimes even brings home the little saplings that grow into those bushes beneath which they scamper in the hot summertime? And now that we replaced all that wiring, I bet they are inviting all their friends to the new and improved food bar down under.

While those squirrels have definitely worn out their welcome under the oaks at our address, they’re obviously not feeling the least bit guilty. They may have a little squirrel indigestion from eating rubber, but their discomfort with eating the “forbidden fruit” ends right there. They have no capacity to feel sorrow or appreciation or any other emotion. They are like the birds of the air which “do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Mt. 6:26).

But we are not squirrels. We are quite capable of ascertaining the source of every blessing. We are without excuse if we do not recognize His existence and worship Him as the Creator (Romans 1:19-21). Yet how often do we give ourselves permission to use the very blessings of His hand as obstacles to our accomplishment of His purposes? Parents sometimes allow the health or talents of their children to tempt them to miss worship services in deference to ballgames, recitals or various exhibitions. Breadwinners sometimes allow the blessings of employment to overtake their ambitions and take their focus from spiritual concerns. People who have gained the blessing of honor among peers sometimes let pride in human achievements become the catalyst for their leaving the Lord. Some, like the rich fool in Luke 12, let material riches consume their passions, leaving no room to grow rich toward God. In the end they won’t be able to say they were overtaken by some great tragedy like the trials of Job.  They will not have lost their moorings at the feet of some persuasive false teacher. They will have destroyed themselves, not because bad things occurred in their lives, but because they misused the good things; the blessings. They ate through their own spiritual wiring.

There is a prayer I have learned to pray that helps me keep check on the way I’m using His blessings. It goes something like this:

“Lord, I am so thankful for the material blessings which You daily shower on me. I really do bask in physical blessings. Lord, help me to use these blessings to bring glory to your name. But Lord, if I ever let these blessings get in my way of serving You, just take them from me, because I want to go to heaven.”

When I am praying that prayer, I have a really hard time letting my children’s activities keep me from faithful worship. It’s hard to let my passion for hobbies outgrow my passion for His work. I think twice before I let that vacation travel keep me from assembling with His people. It’s easier to see the importance of faithful stewardship. It’s just easier to maintain the spiritual wiring.

The Devil Went Down to Sorek

Immortalized as one of history’s most famous couples, the names of Samson and Delilah can be found in poetry, in pop songs alongside the likes of Romeo and Juliet, and in international folklore. The reality of immortality though is the most tragic part of the story of Samson and Delilah. Somewhere today their souls are agonizing in torment or euphoric in bliss. The eternality of immortality is larger than finite minds can comprehend. Samson and Delilah, having been in one of these two places for several thousand years have not completed any fraction, however small, of the total time they will exist in this place. We cannot go there in our minds. The concept is surreal to us; and yet, it is extremely real to each of us. Sixteen verses in Judges sixteen complete the earthly narrative of Delilah. Yet she still lives. She still regrets the choices she made in the valley of Sorek on the now distantly removed planet earth. How is the narrative of your life coming along? Its brevity in comparison with eternity is mind boggling. Get busy getting ready for a place far removed from this temporary planet earth.

Her Motive was Money.

And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver” (Jud. 16:5).

Is money one of the key driving forces in your life? Delilah was willing to sell relationships, personal integrity, and ultimately heaven for eleven hundred pieces of silver. Oh, eleven hundred pieces of silver was no small reward; it was about two talents. It only took about twenty nine talents of gold for the completion of the entire holy place in the tabernacle (Exodus 38:24). They wanted this man of iron and they were willing to use Delilah’s greed to get him. The amount was enticing. It might be added that it was significantly larger than the price given for the betrayal of Christ.

But Delilah thought she was selling a man. It never occurred to her that the materialistic choice she made in that conference room with the Philistines had eternal consequences for her own soul. Do the eternal consequences of our financial decisions occur to us? Are we sometimes willing to sell our souls? The devil is always ready to make a deal.

Taken largely from Women of Troubled Times, by Cindy Colley, Publishing Desigms, Huntsville, AL