Some Things Outlive Us
That somewhat fuzzy item in the picture is a coat hanger. A very special coat hanger.
I was rummaging around in the closet this morning, looking for a shirt to wear to my dentist appointment, and I stumbled across the hanger. It's not long on macho, being three-tone yellow and white, and fuzzy. But it's special nonetheless.
It started life as a run-of-the-mill plastic hanger, the kind you buy in bunches at Wal Mart. But it was originally bought by my Mother umpteen years ago, and she subsequently took colored knitting thread and wrapped it meticulously with the knitting stuff. She even made the little faux blossom you see.
She took pride to get it all just right. Then she gave it, and maybe a dozen others, to us.
Mom died 11 years ago this summer. But this little piece of work lives on, and I think of her every time I get something from the closet, and see the hangers.
In the spring of 1970, on a Sunday, I had what you'd call an epiphany. I was sitting on the steps of a run-down cabin in a campground in Southern Indiana, in the midst of Shamgar training. I had an assignment and it was spring, so I sat outside, there in the woods. I looked through the trees, across a valley, to a picturesque hillside dotted with cattle. I heard the occasional moo, and also a church bell ringing somewhere. What really made the moment was what God showed me there.
As I looked about, I noticed that every trace of man I could see, needed repair. The telephone pole was splitting and dirty, the wooden steps I was sitting on needed repair (as did the door, the screens, etc), the concrete of the short sidewalk was crumbling. Everything.
But, God also showed me that everything He made without our help, was beautiful. Trees were just filling with leaves, animals scurried about, the hills, the valley, the sunshine, even the cows ... all were alive, beautiful, regenerating and being renewed.
I thank God for all He's given us. we have a lovely home, part of which I just finished painting. There's a 20X28 screened-in deck out back, which my sons and I built ourselves. There are a couple pretty nice cars out there, and the house is full of the stuff you'd expect. Stuff that represents, in one form or another, the results of our work over the last 49 years.
I appreciate all that stuff. It's nice. And, just like the fuzzy hanger, it's an expression of someone's love for me. As the hanger shows me Mom's love, every time I think of it, so what we have reminds me of God's love for me. Or it should, every time I think of it. But at the same time, I know that 100 years from now, little (if any) of it will still be here, or have been of much eternal consequence.
We're prone to say "Why me?" when something bad happens to us. But I wonder if we ever ask "Why me?" when something good happens. I've talked this over with my SS class .. I posed the questions as to whether they knew anyone smarter, or harder working, or "better", than they, but who had less than they did. Most said yes, they did. I then told them that seemed, to me, to be evidence that what they had, what they'd accomplished, etc, was evidence of God's blessing in their lives.
I wonder if we see it that way.
Sorry .. chased a rabbit there....
Anyway, it's good to stop and take a look at our lives and our work. And to wonder how much of it will survive the cut, so to speak. How much of it, really, will be laid up in heaven. And, conversely, how much will be like the steps and the telephone pole, and the sidewalk, and will have decayed, crumbled, and rotted away.
I heard a poem, recited by Dick Capin (one of the founders of Capin-Crouse) in perhaps 1969. Dick said it drove his life, and it said simply "Only one life, t'will soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last".
My mom's hanger lives on after her. It shows me the love she had for her family, and reminds me also of the love she showed when she took me to Vacation Bible School when I was a young lad. That led, in the early 1940's, to my trusting Jesus to take me to heaven when I died.
In the end, Mom's little hanger may have some eternal consequences, too. Maybe God will find a way to use these thoughts in my life, for His glory.