You Can’t Take It With You

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Your goods, your wares, your wealth, your sailors, your helmsmen, those patching your leaks, your merchants, all your warriors in you, and all the company that is with you— they also sank into the sea’s depth on the day of your demise. (CEB)

Ezekiel 27:27

My dad loved Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. He listened to this radio program faithfully, often wearing his favorite shirt: a Prairie Home Companion T-shirt. So, when my dad died and the mortuary said we had to decide how he should be dressed for burial, my family and I were in full agreement. He would be buried in his favorite shirt.

I guess I could say that my dad managed to take this shirt with him when he died. But, of course, I don’t believe he actually wore that particular shirt when he joined the Lord in Paradise. In truth, my dad left all of his earthly possessions behind when he died, just like every other human being.

So it was with the city of Tyre in the sixth century B.C. This city had achieved widespread fame as an economic powerhouse. Her superiority in trading allowed her to accumulate the best of the best by way of possessions. Ezekiel 27 enumerates some of her valuables, including: silver, iron, tin, lead, bronze, horses, warhorses, mules, ebony, ivory, turquoise, purple cloth, colorful brocades, linen, coral, rubies, etc. In a word, Tyre had it all.

And Tyre lost it all, like a ship going down in a storm. Everything she valued sank into the deep, including the people who made her so successful. Whereas once Tyre was praised for her beauty, now she has “become a terror; from now on you are nothing” (27:36).

The example of Tyre reminds me to hold onto my possessions lightly. They are not what makes life truly worth living. My stuff will not accompany me to the grave and beyond. So why do I worry so much about it? Shouldn’t I be investing my life in that which matters most? In people and truth? In serving God in the world? In love and justice? In worship and work?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Which of your possessions do you value the most? Why? How does it affect you to think that you will not be able to take them with you when you die? What really matters most to you in life?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I confess that I sometimes act as if I can take it with me. I can get so wrapped up in my possessions: acquiring them, prizing them, worrying about them, fixing them. To be sure, you have given us the things in this world for our good. Yet how easy it is for me—and others, I expect—to love things more than we should, even to live for them.

The example of Tyre reminds me, Lord, to live for what really matters, to invest my life in you and your purposes. You have created me to work in your world, to worship you in word and deed, to love you and others in your name. Help me, Lord, to devote all that I am to that which will last. Amen.

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