A few weeks ago, I spent an entire Sunday afternoon playing monopoly with my son and before he rolled the dice, I said, “Honey, remember you are already valuable, it’s not what you have that determines your worth. Ok? ”
Well, I could have saved my breath because he was completely and irrationally obsessed with acquiring every property his bronze, horse token landed on. If he could buy the jailhouse, he would have. The thrill of acquisition dissipated when his cash reserves ran low and he needed to liquidate properties, houses and hotels to pay rent, bank levies or taxes. Sean, still without guile at thirteen, started bending the rules and kept eyeing the bank vault, trying to keep his game afloat. My strategy was simple – service versus greed. So I set my targets on utilities, railroads and a few choice properties .
In life, we are valuable because God loves us, even before we were born. Our performance or accumulation of things like badges of status will not endear us to Him. His love is sure and does not waver.
A life that has meaning does not hold on to riches and its inherent lie that money defines us. There are no tight fists in the casket. People with the intentional posture of opens hands believe in generosity and are channels of God’s goodness and love. Anything you own turns around and possesses you right back. Imagine the aggravation from every dent in your brand new car or the shattered screen of your new iPhone, your obsession with your home security etc. I agree with Al Watt from LA Writer’s Lab, “…hold your (story) elements loosely.”
“You have to ask yourself: When you finally get the ultimate possession, when you’ve made the ultimate purchase,when you buy the ultimate home, when you have stored up financial security and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb it, and the thrill wears off–and it will wear off–then what?” — John Ortberg
A modified version of a story I heard at a church service goes like this – A grandson (Pastor John Ortberg) finally beat his grandma at monopoly one weekend after summer vacation and she lauded him,
“I see you’ve finally learnt that this game is requires a 100% commitment to acquisition.”
“Took me a whole summer, but well worth it!” He said, gloating in victory.
“Now you are ready to learn a second lesson – everything goes back into the box.”
Life is a game that ends at some point and player after player – the truck driver asleep at the wheel, a business mogul in a plane crash, a young model with a life of glamor in her sights shot by a jealous boyfriend, a dictator beheaded by rebels (all pretty grim huh?), a grandfather passing away in his sleep… we all go by way of the box, so why stress over stuff?
As King Solomon wisely said, ” All this is vanity…I hated all my labor in which I toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? ” (Proverbs 2:18-19 para.)
That’s why we hold things loosely, and love fiercely. When our game is over, we will not leave this planet with a single penny or one solitary thread.
Sean and I now recite this declaration by Bobby Schuller (The Shepherd’s Grove):
I’m not what I do
I’m not what I have
I’m not what people say about me
I’m the beloved of God
That’s who I am and no-one can take that from me…
Lord, lead us by love to our authentic selves.