Delayed shipping times have been in the news a lot lately. Parcels are stacked up in warehouses, containers loaded with goods sitting in docks, ships waiting in queues. A thousand chokepoints have choked up, each one choking up a thousand more down the line.
Working part-time in a Furniture Warehouse this year I have seen the fallout firsthand. Containers are costing six times the price to deliver from this time last year, and even then there is still no guarantee it will get on the next available ship. Containers full of furniture languish on the docks waiting for a berth.
Mountains of Stuff
It’s fun to think about all the goods that must be holed up in ports around the world right now. Quality Tasmanian Oak furniture lying beside containers of chipboard, new-fangled gadgets next to containers of pots and jars. Maybe there’s a container full of Kleenex and toothpicks, another full of Christmas baubles. All the trappings of the modern world are packed and piled high in veritable mountains of steel boxes.
Stuff, so much stuff, stuffed into stuffy boxes. Our world lives on stuff, thrives on it, and gorges itself on it. But it pays to remember that our life is so much more than all the stuff.
Jesus was once asked by a man to help in gaining more inheritance dollars - the response was quick and to the point.
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke Chapter 12 verse 15)
The Stuff Collector
Jesus followed up that punchy statement with a parable to drive the point home. Most know it as the parable of the rich fool, but today I am going to call it the ‘Story of the Stuff Collector’.
A paraphrase would go something like this:
There was a rich man with heaps of stuff, and as he invested his stuff to get more stuff, he became a stuff success story, and soon found stuff streaming in of extraordinary quantities. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do with all this stuff? My stuff containers are overstuffed!’
‘This is what I will do; I’ll build bigger stuff containers, and mountains of them! Then I will have stuff stored up for many years and be able to relax and take life easy.
But this is how it finishes:
“God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12: verse 20 to 21)
Why was the stuff collector a fool? Not because of all his stuff, but because of his complete unawareness of eternity. He was laying plans for a life of luxury and ease, but he had no control over his every breath. He was rich in stuff, poor towards God, and went into eternity destitute. Those mountains of stuff he left behind were completely useless to him.
Jesus wrapped up his lesson with one of his more famous quotes:
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 11:34)
Is my heart in all my stuff? I hope not. Stuff makes a foolish treasure.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania with his wife and two daughters. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from chasing tennis balls to curling up with a good book on a rainy day. Thomas Devenish’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html