It's Just Stuff
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal..." - Jesus (Matt. 6:19)
I was awoken early this morning by a loud crashing sound. I wandered groggily through the house searching for clues as to the source of the noise, but everything seemed to be in order. Resigned to chalk it up to mystery, I sleepily plopped down on the couch. A knock at the front door brought me back to my senses, and I opened it to find a visibly distressed young woman in nursing scrubs on my porch. "I'm so sorry - I hit your car," she managed.
We live on a relatively busy street, and because we have a one-car driveway, I usually park my car at the curb in front of our house. I've done that for almost three years without incident. But on this particular morning, this young woman was sleepily driving home after an all-night shift in the ER, and apparently dozed off just long enough to veer into the side of my parked car. Obviously the impact startled her awake, and she pulled her vehicle over safely and parked just up the street from our house, and walked back to our house to break the news to me.
I am grateful to God for his grace at work in me, because my first thoughts were not about the damage to my vehicle, the inconvenience sure to follow in assessing damage and seeking repairs or replacement, and the accompanying financial burden. No, the first thing I noticed was that this woman was upset, and was clearly afraid that this stranger who answered her knock at 6:00 in the morning would greet her with anger, impatience, and hostility. I was honestly delighted to diffuse the tension of the situation with a calm demeanor and gentle words. "It's just stuff. It's just money. These are not the most important things in life. I'm just glad you're OK." The relief on her face and in her voice was obvious. "Wow. Thank you for being so kind."
That little exchange has sat with me all day. On the one hand, I wish I had the presence of mind to create a verbal pathway to Jesus. (Something like, "God has been so merciful to me in Jesus, so it wouldn't make sense for me to turn around and be unmerciful to others" would have worked nicely.) I have prayed that perhaps my opportunity with this woman has not yet passed, and that he would help me be quicker to find a gospel bridge in future encounters with people.
But mostly, I'm just truly grateful that she was spared far worse results. She veered just in time to merely side-swipe my car; if her vehicle had swerved enough to collide directly with the back of my car, who knows how bad it might have been. I may have opened my front door to a much more tragic scene. If she had dozed off on the highway instead of in front of my house, the comparatively gentle awakening of scraping against a car door would have been wishful thinking. She is a wife, and the mother of three young children. I can easily imagine a scenario where that husband and those babies are experiencing the worst day of their lives today. As it is, they have only to deal with the hassle and expense of insurance claims and car repairs.
In light of those realizations, it seems utterly absurd to get bent out of shape about a damaged car. Or to set myself in bitter rage against this young woman, a fellow image-bearer of God, on her way back to her family after a long night of taking care of sick and injured people. Or to panic about the likelihood of having to spend a chunk of money (in addition to an insurance payout) on replacing my probably totaled car.
It's just stuff. It's just cars. It's just money. And it's all God's anyway. It's a good reminder to me (and hopefully to you as well) to spend more time and energy storing up treasure in heaven, instead of piling up riches on this side of the grave, where moth and rust destroy everything we can get our hands on.
Go love someone today, friends.