An unexpected flood in my basement, as well as a few random home repairs and maintenance this week has resulted in some expenses I hadn’t really anticipated. A Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University fan – I’ve followed all the steps, prepared for emergencies, stashed the money away for such things, but never really WANTED to believe I might have to use it.
It’s really not very FUN to spend your money on repairs and replacements…….
But that’s what it’s for.
I went to bed disgusted I have to dig into that fund, but I woke up for some reason remembering a story – one of those stories I always seem to get when wearing my “school shoes” at work. It was one I needed to recall this morning. One I need to share.
I once cared for a very wealthy, well known, and respected man. He talked often about all of the money he had saved during his working years. He was quite proud of himself. He worked very hard, and put it away and safeguarded it well, looking very forward to his retirement years. He’d planned to travel, to fish, to golf, and enjoy his wealth living in the new home he and his wife had planned to purchase. They sold their beautiful, paid-off home and moved into a luxury apartment, where they had planned to stay only temporarily for six months to a year while shopping for the PERFECT retirement place. Two years later, they were still temporarily living in that apartment, and still searching for that perfect home – still saving, saving, saving for those long anticipated enjoyable and relaxing retirement years.
And then, the man became ill and was diagnosed with cancer, and he became very angry. You see, cancer was not in his plans.
He started getting chemotherapy and was too weak to travel. And that was not what he had planned!
He caught infection after infection and had multiple admissions to the hospital. The hospital was not on his list of places he’d wanted to travel!
His friends in high places couldn’t help him, and while he was hospitalized, the only good his wealth did him was allow him to receive Egyptian cotton sheets and his meals delivered on china instead of paper plates.
All that saved up and safeguarded money did for him was sit in the bank. It didn’t cure his cancer. It didn’t fix the broken relationships in his family. It didn’t bring him enjoyment. And it certainly didn’t make him very nice.
In fact, he wasn’t very nice at all – until one day.
Nearing the end of his life, those of us who cared for him became the recipients of his bitterness and anger. Finally one day he broke down and cried very hard, and very long. He realized that his cancer was not going to be cured, and that he was actually going to die very soon. I stood next to his bed, and I just waited. He got very sick and without going into any great detail, I’ll just say he needed to be cleaned, and the entire bed needed changing. It was quite a mess, and this very proud man was now horribly humiliated.
I let him cry, I let him yell and talk down to me. And when we were all done, and he had a fresh gown, and fresh sheets, he looked at me and said, “You know what? I saved my entire career for these retirement years. I am a very wealthy man. I have enough money to pay cash for any home my wife and I want – in any zip code around here I choose! I saved and saved so that we could travel, and never have to worry about money. And now, not only will I never be able to enjoy it – here I am at the end of my life and I need someone ELSE to wipe my a%#!”
And he was right. He’d learned an important lesson about what really matters – but it was too late.
I’ll never for that day. I’ll never forget that man. And I’ll never forget what he taught me.
We can make all of the plans we want, but we are never really in charge of what happens. And we can hold onto our money with the tightest clenched fist, and still never see or enjoy any of it. In fact, I believe if you hold your fist shut tightly enough, unwilling to open it up in generosity – your hand will get stuck, and so will your heart.
This week, a couple of folks who wished to remain anonymous dropped everything they were doing in order to spend hours with me doing the filthy clean-up of my flooded basement. They said they enjoyed the fellowship – and we did, actually, have a pretty good time that day despite the circumstances. When I asked if it was okay to give them a shout-on on FaceBook, they said no – because they were doing “the Lord’s work” and were storing up treasures in heaven. They were the polar opposite of that man in the hospital who went to great lengths for decades in order to hoard his money.
Matthew 6:19-20 says, “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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”
I’m thankful for that emergency money I’d saved up, and I’m headed out shortly to go get it in order to pay for the repairs. After all, that’s what it’s for. And let’s face it – ya can’t take it with ya.
But as soon as I leave the credit union from making that withdrawal, I’m going straight over to my son’s house, because that’s where my treasure is. And I’m going to snuggle my grand babies, because they’ve absolutely stolen my heart – hook, line, and sinker.
Thank you, to the anonymous friends who dropped everything they were doing and sacrificed an evening with family and friends, in order to show up and get dirty with me in my flooded basement. You look like Jesus to me, and I love you!
By the way – if you’re wondering what happened to the man in the story, he died. And he left all of his treasures behind. Where’s YOUR treasure??