Of Memorabilia and Men

18 Jul

Digging through boxes looking for something else, I ran across something I hadn’t thought about in years. I told my wife about it, and she held nothing back. “Who on earth holds on to a shuffleboard trophy from 53 years ago?” (I should have put that in all caps, probably.)

So, I explained how much it meant to me back then. I was an anomaly in eighth grade. I couldn’t participate in sports. That cut me out of being part of any pack with the guys. My good grades redeemed me from being a total outcast. However, I was too personable to be called a nerd even though I did see the value in and did use pocket protectors. I was generally liked…just not held too high on invite lists reserved for the ultra-attractive and those with athletic prowess.

My Time to Shine

That winter the school decided to have a shuffleboard tournament. I won a trophy. I was worthless at baseball or basketball. Track and field was a joke. But I bested the jocks in shuffleboard, and I had the evidence. It was my Olympic gold at the time.

I look at it now and can say with total confidence this one thing about it. When it comes time to sort through my earthly belongings, its destination will be some landfill. That’s probably true about most of the things I’ve held onto and put in places of honor in my home.

If this life is all there is

I feel sad about some things, but then I remember a story Jesus told. A man had amassed land and been successful in growing crops. It got to the point where he ran out of places to store his harvest. He decided he must build more and greater barns, then he could retire. Well, Jesus’ actual phrase was “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you.”’ No fat, juicy retirement for him. And the Lord added, “Then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

A different path

In other words, we have a choice. We can strive to collect our trophies—awards, rebuilt classic car from our high school years, heirlooms—and hope they don’t end up as garage sale discards or trash. Or perhaps we live our lives more like the man in Jesus’ story. We have been successful and built a legacy for our family, a hospital wing gets named after us, or maybe we even secure a place in history books. But if our identity and self-worth are dependent on those things, a day will come when no one remembers the stories connected to the items and why they mattered to us.

Or we can choose to build a legacy for eternity—a treasure in heaven, being rich toward God. How is that possible? By having our identities dependent upon what God thinks of us and our relationship with him. An amazing freedom exists when we no longer care what others think of us—when God’s opinion is the only one that matters. Through that resolve, we can live our lives for his glory and not our own. We discover our greatest treasure is knowing the people we love have chosen the latter course with us.

New meaning for faded glory

For now, the shuffleboard trophy will remain on my shelf—not for gloating in my victory, but for a reminder that my treasures here will go to strangers or end up in a landfill. The victory won and given to me by Jesus is eternal.

Don’t be too quick to discard any trophies you have. Their stories help create the fiber of the cords that bind us together. They have helped make us who we are, but they are not to be the sum total nor even the most important. What trophy can you use to remind you of what is most important?

I love hearing from you in the comments section. Feel free to email me, as well. Please, click the link on the right to sign up to receive email notices so you don’t miss future posts. (Just so you know that I won’t flood your email box, I average one post per week.)

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