The morning I left for Uganda I walked the dog and got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It had nothing to do with my upcoming flight (though it very well could have), nor the dog. No, it had to do with something I saw that morning. Life was changing in our neighborhood. There’s a house not too far from mine that I knew was for sale. It must have sold because a company was setting up an estate sale. It was going to be significant. They were liquidating everything.
This house is not small. Nor a bargain. It sold for about $6 million. It is an amazing place, six bedrooms, eight bathrooms. With all (and I mean all) the amenities. When Danny was in fifth grade, there was no house on that lot, but the owner was at science camp with me up in Wrightwood. We both had sons in fifth grade. He was dealing with the City to acquire the permits to build this house. It was his baby.
All these years later the house was sold and its contents on the market as well. I found it a haunting thought. Extremely sad. Why? Well, I sort of knew the family, but not really. I hadn’t seen dad around the neighborhood lately, and knew something was wrong. I had recently discovered he had died last year of pancreatic cancer. But he’s my age? His wife was now selling everything and returning to her native Germany. To sell everything after such life trauma must be extremely difficult. I ached for her and her now grown sons.
Let me say that I know nothing of their spiritual inclination. But what struck me that morning was this: here is an example of a kingdom built by man which is now in ashes. He had obviously “gained the whole world,” but what of his soul? I did not know the answer to that question. But I walked by with an ache in the pit of my stomach. I found it terribly sad.
Are we carefully and prayerfully making wise choices in life? On what foundation is our life built? To most people in the world, we are fabulously wealthy. Maybe our houses don’t sell for $6 million, but they sell for a whole lot more than most of the world could ever afford. But where is our hope? Are we living in such a way that we are investing in eternal things? If we build our lives on the stuff of this world, it’ll all be sold (or in my case, given to Goodwill) some day. And perhaps sooner than we imagine.
How do you live with such paradoxes in life? Solomon taught us to enjoy life as a gift, make the most of every opportunity, live with reverence toward God, and with an eye toward eternity. Check out the last two verses of Ecclesiastes. Do I really know what happened in my neighbor’s life? No. But it still made me think. I should examine my own life and its choices. In fact, I must.