Summary: Many have died accomplishing much in either their bank accounts or in other areas. Accomplishments are nice, but they cannot give us what we hunger for which is assurance.
FOOD FOR THE FED UP (November 2002)
"An eighty-four-year-old rag picker who died in abject poverty was buried in a pauper's grave In New York. Several days after his burial, the city authorities discovered a fortune of more than $500,000 belonging to the old man in a Brooklyn warehouse vault. His name was Henry Chapin Smith. He was a graduate of Harvard, had been a classmate of Robert Frost and a friend of the philosopher Henry James. His life stands as a mute reminder of the futility of placing our trust in things". (T. T. Crabtree. ed. The Zondervan 2001 Pastor's Annual. Jerold McBride. "The Good Life". Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000, p. 99). If there is anything that a story such as this one tells us, it is that life's accomplishments are nice and short-lived in their glory. The reason for this is that accomplishments cannot give us assurance in the spiritual realm. I have heard many stories like this one in my lifetime where a supposedly poor person leaves behind a fortune that others discovered posthumously. Stories like this one seem to leave us thinking that many have died accomplishing much in either their bank accounts or in other areas. Accomplishments are nice, but they cannot give us what we hunger for which is assurance.
HUNGRY, YET STILL NOT SATISFIED
When we are physically hungry and eat something that satisfies, we say "That hits the spot". "Multitudes of people only live for pleasure. Their creed is, "Eat, drink, be merry. The trouble of course is that the merriment does not last". (John Frederick Jansen. Guests Of God. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956, p. 102). The story of Henry Chapin Smith is one of those kinds of stories that proves that the merriment does not last. Perhaps, Henry Chapin Smith hungered for food that never satisfied. After all, why would a man have the means of money and live as if he had none? Consider Isaiah 55:2: "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?" (RSV).
People who are indifferent to God cannot find or reject the bread of heaven who is Jesus Christ. "… Tom Dring, tells the story of a copy of John's Gospel which came into the possession of a passenger on an Indian train. When he realized that it was a part of the Christian scriptures he became angry, tore it into small pieces and threw it out the window. But a gang of platelayers was working on the railway line. One of them picked up a tiny fragment and read in his own language just three words: "Bread of Life." Deeply impressed he repeated them aloud. "That is just what I need," he said. "Where can I get it?" Though warned that the phrase was from a Christian book which would contaminate him, he was insistent. He found at last a little Christian community and through its simple forms of worship he found the Christ himself". (Leslie D. Weatherhead. Over His Own Signature. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1955, pp. 25-26). Although this platelayer worked to make his living and be able to eat, he no longer worked for "food that just did not satisfy".
WE WANT TO BE SATISFIED
Being a Christian does not make us exempt from life's storms and trials. As Christians we cannot dwell on life's of accomplishments and expect to be satisfied. "In 1984,1988, and 1992 American speed skater Dan Jansen suffered a series of disappointments in his attempts to win Olympic gold. How did he keep coming back time and time again? He says he learned to keep things in perspective. In Fun Circle, Jansen writes:
When I was nine years old, I was competing at the youth national championships in Minnesota. I was in good position to win my first national title when, coming around a turn, I tripped on a rubber hose they had set up as a lane marker. That slip cost me the title by one point.
I started crying. I was crying as Mom took off my skates and during
the award ceremonies. I was still crying when we got in the car and when
we pulled into our driveway six hours later. My father hadn't spoken a
word to me all the way home. But as we got out of the car, he said
quietly, "You know, Dan, there's more to life than skating around in a
As bitter as any loss may be, when we know the Lord there is always much more to life than any disappointment we are now facing". (Craig Brian Larson. ed. Contemporary Stories For Preachers, Teachers & Writers. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, p. 174). It is stories like these that remind us of Paul's profound statement in Philipians 3:13-14: "Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus".