Brian and I were out and about a couple of days ago running errands. While we were driving, I noticed a shiny white Audi with a personalized license plate that read, “YOULOSE”. Hmm. That’s got some attitude behind it. “You lose” implies that “I win”, right? So I chewed on that for a minute. What, exactly, were they trying to say that I lost? What had they bested me at in this game called life? I lose because their car is nicer than mine? (Or wait, maybe because their car is *cleaner* than mine….) I lose because they clearly make more money than I do based on our respective ownership of vehicles? I lose because they got to the DMV and registered that vanity plate before I did? I lose because they must be going faster than me if I’m reading their vanity plate in front of me? What, precisely, do they win and I lose?
And that got me thinking – what do we really want to hold on to? Our pastor and his family recently lost their home to a fire. Almost all of their earthly possessions, gone, in mere moments. I can’t imagine the challenge of losing all of our stuff. No furniture, no clothes, no books, no electronics, no photographs, no more piano that I’ve had since I was seven years old – it would really, really stink to have that happen. But when you get right down to it, is the worldly stuff what’s *really* important? Only if you’re listening to the world.
His first Sunday back in the pulpit following the fire, our pastor talked about some of the things they found as they were sifting through the rubble. The first was a wall hanging that said simply, “PRAY”. The second was a plaque that depicted a cross with “Amazing Grace” written under it. The third was a music box that played “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. His point was that we can always pray, even when it seems like everything is lost. God’s grace is always free to those who will accept it. And God is always, always faithful to us – He will never leave us or forsake us. So while he and his family may have lost everything from the world’s perspective except the proverbial shirts on their backs, they can and do still hold fast to what matters most from an eternal point of view.
Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” – Mark 8:34-36 It’s not about the shiny cars or the fancy houses or the fat bank accounts. It’s not “he who dies with the most toys wins”. It’s living intentionally, with our focus on the eternal rather than the here and now. It’s being willing to lay down our selfish wants and desires and living life in a way that glorifies Christ and considers others more than ourselves.
So. I may not drive a fancy car, I may not have a high-dollar job. But I’ve got Jesus in my heart and I’m striving daily to find ways to reach out to others, love on my family and friends and neighbors, live my life in a way that makes Him smile. Whatever I’ve lost is nothing compared to what is gained.