My older brothers and I grew up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania. The three of us were so different in so many ways. Randy was five years older than I. He was obsessed by his own curiosity. I was always satisfied to believe that if an object worked it was worth keeping, if it didn’t work it should be thrown away. Randy viewed things in an entirely different way. If it worked he wanted to divide it into pieces to determine why it worked and if it didn’t work he would embark on a mission to find reasons for its failure.
That’s why, as a young teenager I remember him spending hour upon hour in our father’s garage. He had attained a go-cart, whether he bought it, found it or it was given to him, I don’t remember. I know it didn’t work and so I quickly categorized it as a piece of junk worthy to be thrown into the deep ravine behind our house. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Randy dedicated many days to the task of fixing that go-cart.
One day, to my astonishment, I saw him putt-putt putting up the hill. He drove it out of sight but I could still hear the engine. And then I couldn’t hear the engine. A short time later I saw Randy pushing the cart back into the garage where he continued to invest in his dream, albeit, without much optimism. No longer an object of his affection, the cart was abused by my angry brother. My curiosity turned to amusement as I heard grunts of despair and an occasion hammer or screw driver come flying out of the garage.
Hours turned into days and Randy’s investment turned to futility. But he just couldn’t let it go. He was obsessed. He didn’t want to eat. He isolated himself from the rest of us. He couldn’t let it go because he had invested too much. The go-cart, which had little value from the first moment he pushed it into the garage seemed to increase in value after several days because of the deposits of hard labor and extensive thought Randy had invested. But it was an illusion. The truth is that the go-cart was always a piece of junk unworthy of Randy’s investment.
How common is it to mistakenly measure the value of something by the amount of time or energy we’ve invested in it?
The wealthiest man in the world is not Bill Gates. It is a man from Mexico named Carlos Slim. He made his wealth through the privatization of Mexico’s national telephone company during the 1990’s. In last week’s stock market dip, Carlos lost nearly $7 billion dollars! Even the investments of the richest man in the world can never be entirely safe.
The countries of the world stand like spectators at an air Fair who have just seen a plane crash to earth, motionless, with jaws hanging low as they witness the economic collapse of the greatest, wealthiest country the world has ever known. The world has been green for many decades now. The U.S. has been a like a forest of green money producing trees and the other countries of the world have been green with envy. The trees are bare now. The leaves have fallen and threaten to form a brown blanket of bankruptcy.
Who doesn’t have a story about a failed investment? Isn’t that what life is really all about? Fifty percent of Americans invest in marriage only to see it end. Al and Tipper Gore each invested forty years in their marriage. Cumulatively, they invested eighty years only to see their marriage end in divorce.
I invested several years pastoring a church that no longer exists. I taught five years in a high school that no longer exists. I’ve invested many, many years in friendships that have ended because of relocation or redirection that comes so unexpectedly in life.
Politicians can’t let failed policies go because they’ve made personal deposits that have encouraged them to think they are infallible. Media members hold onto failed politicians because they have honked their horns so loudly for them they cannot face the humility of a failed investment.
Here is some sound investment advice. Why not invest in a relationship that can never fail? Why not develop a relationship with someone who is perfect, someone who will never be dishonest, who will never fail you? The amazing thing is not so much that He is perfect, it is that the Perfect One would provide a way for imperfect beings like you and I to develop a relationship with him.
Why not invest in a relationship that will never end? There will be no divorce. There will be no death. Unlike many marriages and friendships, this relationship lasts forever and ever. It never dies, it never fades away. Leila Morris wrote a song over a hundred years ago that describes this relationship well; “Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss, To bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross;” He purchased the right to claim us as sons and daughters, as joint heirs of the kingdom of God and now our relationship with him is “Sweeter as the years go by, Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter, Sweeter as the years go by.”
Why do we spend our entire lives trying to find comfort in a fallen world? We spin our wheels in a manic mission to accumulate as much wealth and influence as possible only to be disappointed when we come to the end of the road and we are faced with the realization that our few moments here are like a drop in the ocean when compare with our eternal future. Why did we invest in something that would perish and fade away? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20) Why don’t we invest in a kingdom that will never end?
Do you want a safe investment? Invest in the One who will “reign over the House of Jacob forever” and in a “kingdom that shall have no end.” (Luke 1:33)
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