July 29

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”.    Job 1:21 (NIV)  

We brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.  

We come with nothing; we will leave with nothing. In between we have our life in this world. There is a story about a revered rabbi and a traveler. The traveler is searching for the rabbi who he has been told is scholarly and pious, one of the best. He searches and finds that he will find this rabbi teaching children. The traveler is astounded at the poverty all around. The rabbi’s house is ancient and rickety, the children are sitting at “desks” of planks on blocks of wood. The traveler can tell this is the rabbi he seeks; he is asked to come back later when the children are done learning. He returns to find the rabbi seated on the lone remaining block; the others being rearranged for his children’s beds. The traveler asks the rabbi how he can live like this, he himself is not wealthy but has chairs and tables and real beds. The rabbis responds: “Indeed? But why don’t I see your furniture? How do you manage without it?” The traveler responds asking if the rabbi thinks he schlepps his furniture whereever he goes, when he travels he makes do, but at home that is different. And Rabbi DovBer gently answers: “At home? Oh yes . . .at home it is a different matter altogether.”  (From Chabad.org, article entitled “The Traveler.”) 

The point isn’t that we should empty our houses of all except one place to sit and maybe one change of clothes. It is that we are to focus on what we can learn and do in this world without being encumbered by things. Job is lamenting the loss of all he had – wealth and livestock and children and health. He is able to say, much to the disappointment of Satan, that he came with nothing and leaves the world with nothing and Praise the Lord! His focus is on the Lord who created and cares for him.

Paul in his letter also says as long as we have food and clothing, we can be content. I would take that to mean adequate shelter and our basic needs met. Most of us here have lots more than that. We read books about how to unclutter our lives, how to throw out the stuff we really don’t need and rarely use. Some hire people to organize and help get rid of the extras. Some even get storage lockers to put all the extra things in, things they may not even look at or remember that they had. Anyone preparing for a move realizes how much they need to get rid of; at least we can donate the good stuff to those who are in need. 

Many do not have enough food, clothing or adequate shelter. Those of use with plenty, can share with them. And we can remember that we don’t carry furniture with us when we travel, we use what we find there. We are travelers in this world, we don’t need to accumulate stuff, rather we need to learn and share the Good News of our Lord.  

Lord, we are anxious and worry about our life and death. Help us to remember that we can’t even make a single hair on our head white or black (except by faking it.) Remind us that you provide for our needs and that there is no need for us to pile up treasures here on earth. Help us rest in the assurance that you will accomplish whatever concerns us, for we are your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Chris Gabel