It’s Not About The Stuff

As our regular readers know for the past 33 months, Norma Jean and I have been homeless. Sorta.

When we decided to step back from working full time with a local church and travel, engaging in an itinerant ministry, we gave up a house we called home, got rid of a lot of stuff, packed up what we wanted to keep, and put it in a storage unit in Florida.

Now that we’ve bought a home in Citrus County near Crystal River, we’re unpacking our stuff. It seems that we kept more than we thought. For instance, I gave away lots of books before we moved, but somehow I’ve managed to have 50 boxes left from my library. Then, there are the sets of china, Norma Jean has collected through the years.

It’s been like Christmas day around our house, as we open box after box and discover stuff we’d forgotten about. Many of the items we’re unwrapping evoke a surprised look. A smile. A chuckle. Or a story.

Suddenly it dawned on me that it’s not really about the stuff itself. We keep it because of the memories it represents. The emotional attachment. And the relationships we’ve formed over the years.

A clock we gave my parents on their 25th wedding anniversary. China that belonged to Norma’s mother. Silver trays that were wedding presents. Various going away gifts given us by brethren when we’ve moved from one congregation to another. A cookie jar that belonged to my Mom that I recall “stealing” cookies from (and getting caught) when I was a kid. Then there are the knick-knacks, souvenirs, and various plaques that we’ve bought on trips or have been given by friends. They wouldn’t bring a dollar at a garage sale but have significance to us.

In addition, there are so many framed pictures and albums from family get-togethers, vacations, anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasions. Pictures or paintings that were gifts from family or friends. Some go back to our great-grandparents. Then there are pictures of preachers who’ve befriended and mentored me through the years.

All of this stuff means something because it represents a special person in our lives. It evokes a fond memory. A pleasant time. A lifelong relationship. And even a spiritual bond.

The stuff is difficult to part with because through it we feel a connection with people we love. With memories we hold dear. And with departed family, friends, and brethren whose relationships we’ve cherished, and long to see again.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ warning in Luke 12:15. “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions {or stuff}.”

Whether expensive collections, valuable treasures, or just inexpensive stuff, life is more than what we have. It’s who we are. What we’ve become. How we’re living. And the people in our lives who’ve made a difference. Plus the people we’re influencing for good.

In his fine book, It’s All About the People, my friend, and preaching colleague, Dee Bowman wrote, “Life is about little people. It’s not about the rich and famous, it’s about simple folks…who haven’t made a big splash in life, nor said anything special, or done anything worthy of public praise or honor.”

It’s not about the stuff. It’s the people in our daily lives. Husbands and wives. Sons and daughters. Mothers and fathers. Brothers and sisters. Aunts and uncles. And a host of brothers and sisters in Christ. These people and the fond memories of times we’ve spent together are who and what leaves a lasting, indelible impression in our hearts.

The wise man reminds us of this important truth. “The memory of the righteous is a blessing” (Prov. 10:7).

It’s not about the stuff. It’s about the people. The memories. The relationships. And the shared experiences.

Ultimately, of course, the stuff will all be burned up.  Then God will judge us by the stuff within us.  Our attitude. Actions. And priorities in life. (2 Cor 5:10).

Then we will know for sure that it’s not about this world’s stuff.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

9 Comments

Filed under Relationships

9 responses to “It’s Not About The Stuff

  1. Sonny

    Hi preacher we did the same thing in 08 became homeless, ministry since seventies
    ’70s as tentmakers

    There is a nomad land of homeless living on boats all over Florida some support themselves eagerly in riches majority are very poor good people tossed
    but they are diverse as any scene and we love them. Due age we had to give up the boats as being unsafe to live on with operations and surgeries too many steps to many ropes too many trips. dropped anchor in Southwest Florida Island and enjoy a wonderful community of neighbors that love us and we love. safely our community is retirement every old or either fishing lots of people lots of tourists but our “homestyle the kind Jesus loves to visit of just a few neighbors breaking bread at a table in the home is our ideal of abiding and community with our savior everyday as we celebrate the resurrection and our new lifecommunity is very tight we meet for meals and break bread at our tables out in the yard for covid
    The retired unchurched the burned out on Church everywhere the duns and nuns in the retirement comunities all they want is love reconciliation forgiveness.
    our last ministry on the boat in Jacksonville was with a food pantry and a veteran center are are specialty is PTSD in combat veterans we know the cure. We’re both 100% disabled I’m 100% combat veteran. We love warriors likeCornelius and we know what the precious truth in the name of Jesus did for him did for him to change sides

    Would love to talk sometime about the home style movement that’s currently raging through the US. We see great opportunity for sharing the message of our common gospel
    Peace

    • Sonny

      Editorial note please excuse my voice typing spell check and any error in speech allocution or grammar you get the message we’re home style the kind Jesus loves to visit just a few that love you

  2. Philip North

    In reference to “stuff,” well for those who do not know about Sondra Eileen West, and what she did back in 1976, check her out on line.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Recap: February 28-March 5 | ThePreachersWord

  4. Phyllis Caldwell

    So good and so very true.

  5. Brad Bates

    It looks like they live in Citrus Co now and he’ll be preaching in CR for the next 3 weeks before they start traveling.

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  6. Debbie Griffin

    So true! Joe will start his 46th year of preaching in April. When we moved from Fort Scott, KS to CA we sold or gave away 80% of all that we had. We live in a very small home. Joe is working with the Huntington Beach COC. The members are great and Joe loves doing work with the community. In my eyes he is amazing. But the glory is to the Lord. Glad to know you & your wife are loving your work. I will let Joe know about the 50 boxes of books so he will feel better about the amount of books he moved with us. He gave so many away to our sons and others and left a good amount at the congregation there.
    Great hearing about your mission!
    Debbie

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