Don’t Hold Your Stuff Too Tightly

Words by David Byrd | Image by Blakeney Clouse

A year and a half ago, the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s Disaster Relief Ministry trained me to be an assessor. My first deployment was to assess tornado damage in Florence, Alabama. Recently, I returned from a deployment assignment near Inverness, Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. This assignment was to assess homes and churches damaged by rising waters from the surge of gulf water caused by the aforementioned hurricane.

After our assessments were processed, our Mud-Out teams removed ruined items such as flooring, cabinets, portions of wall covering like sheetrock or paneling, appliances, beds, sofas, recliners, etc. Anything touched by rising salt water was ruined and had to be removed to alleviate the possibility of black mold invading the home or church.

What I witnessed while in Florida was truly heartbreaking. Some homes will be deemed uninhabitable. Sadly, most of the residents of the area we served are not covered by insurance because it is too expensive to acquire.

As we navigated the streets of this island community, the roadways were littered with precious possessions we all hold dear: appliances, furniture, big-screen televisions, etc. The unfortunate dilemma was that once electricity was restored, there wasn’t much left to power.

Think about some of the scenarios that played out. No hot meals were prepared in these homes because there were no freezers or refrigerators from which to take the food. If there had been food, there was no longer a stove to prepare it. There was no dining room table to sit around. There was no sofa or recliner to relax while watching football on opening weekend. Then, after a long day, there was no dry bed to lie down on and rest. All the things these people took for granted were gone.

I learned from this trip that we all need to be very mindful of what we deem our treasures. Too many people’s treasure only amounts to “stuff”—and that stuff could one day end up on the side of the road, on its way to a landfill.

Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, “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 neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Today and always, may our treasure be that which has an eternal quality. And may our hearts place value, not on those things that moth and rust will one day destroy, but on the things of heaven. WL

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