Have you ever been in the middle of a big home improvement project when you suddenly ran out of critical supplies? It’s usually pretty easy to just run to the store. This past weekend some of my family and I were finishing a variety of projects on our lake house in South Dakota where Elijah loved to fish and swim. Since a visit to the nearest supply store required an hour round trip, we tried to store up as many things as we could in one effort. But as things usually work out, we had to take three trips before we were done.
A one hour round trip to gather our supplies made us want to set our priorities and do everything right the first time. Even with a long trip each time we ran errands, I realized that we were still not very good at thinking ahead and planning for our future needs. We laughed at ourselves, despite the inconvenience. But it reminded me of an old parable I had forgotten about.
A wealthy man died and was being escorted in heaven to his new eternal home. As he walked down the streets of gold, he saw what seemed like an endless row of breathtaking mansions. He pointed out one in particular that was especially beautiful. The angel of the Lord said that it belongs to a wonderful person that used to work for his company on earth. The man was excited, anticipating that his own mansion must be indescribably ornate.
Eventually they came to a pitiful looking shack thrown together with scraps of leftover material. The man looked sympathetically at the shack and commented that the owner must have been very poor. “On the contrary,” replied the angel, “this is your new home. Unfortunately, we could only build it with the materials you sent us while you were still on earth!”
The words of Jesus come immediately to mind: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20).
We are always building something, whether of earthly or heavenly value. Every day is an opportunity to set our priorities, and reestablish where we invest our time and energy and resources. It’s all about location, location, location! In this case, it’s a choice between eternal value or temporary earthly gain.
Elijah’s girlfriend Madison shared with me some of the text messages that Elijah exchanged with her in the weeks before his death. In one exchange, Elijah spoke about building something of lasting impact. He said, “I’ve told 5 people about God being real. Imagine if each of them told like 1-2 people or more, and those people told more people. It all started from me. Isn’t that a cool thing? But I want the glory to go to God and not me.“
Elijah has helped many of us reevaluate our priorities here on earth. What are we spending our time building? Are we spending our efforts on things that only bring personal comfort and temporary benefit? Or do we have our hearts set on heaven, helping as many others as possible share in the beauty and splendor of eternity?
There will come a time when we won’t get a second chance to make a quick run to the supply store.
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