“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV)
Our youngest son, Caleb, was born with Down Syndrome. His birth changed the course of our lives, literally. As parents, we have learned many things through the lives of all of our sons. We love each of them deeply and we do not love one more than any of the others. However, there is uniqueness to Caleb’s life that God has often used to demonstrate certain truths to me.
I have often wondered what life would be like in this world if everyone was as satisfied with life as Caleb. We do not have a fancy house. He does not have a large room. We don’t travel or go out to eat a lot. Yet, the majority of his life, you would think Caleb is the richest man in the world. This is not to say that he never wants something that he doesn’t have, isn’t ever disagreeable, doesn’t get upset when his schedule gets changed, or is sometimes as stubborn as a mule! These things do happen. However, most of the time, he is more satisfied with less than any person I have ever known.
Most of us would not consider grocery days a big deal. Years ago, when we had just one car, I would pick up the groceries on my way home. As I was bringing groceries into the kitchen, he would help unpack them and put them away. “Cereal!” “Cookies!” “Broccoli!” “Milk!” You would have thought it was Christmas morning from his response to every item pulled from the bags – simple enjoyment in simple things.
Caleb has his TV and ESPN. He loves to watch his sports and his favorite athletes. He will frequently listen to music, while drumming the air with sticks or playing my old guitar, while also watching sports, muted on his TV. However, he is also content to sit and draw or paint or copy the lyrics to worship songs he loves. He has endless copies of lyrics and original designs of our “dream house” and his “man-room.”
He and my wife used to clean church buildings together, where he would vacuum for several hours. He never seemed bored and looked forward to it as one of his days of the week. He delights in his birthday. As soon as one is over, he starts talking about what he wants to do on the next one. He loves to help serve at our church and has done so in many ways over the years. Someday, he says, he wants to be on the worship team.
For most of his days, Caleb is very content. He enjoys his days and looks forward each new day, doing chores and spending time with his dog and his family. As Caleb likes to say, “This is the life.” So we did not go on a vacation this year. Instead, we sat together as a family, had popcorn and watched a movie on DVD at home. Isn’t life great? Caleb sure thinks so.
However, I find that I am frequently not so content with the life God has given to me. What does it take to satisfy my heart? Does it take reaching a certain level of income? Do I need to drive a certain kind of car? Does it require a bigger home? Does it require me to go on one or two vacations each year? Maybe material things are not what take hold of my heart. Maybe my satisfaction comes from making sure everyone knows that I am right. Does it come from receiving the approval of others? Or does it come from going to a church where they do everything just the way I like it, whether it is programs, preaching style, or music? There are so many things in life that can take hold of us and steer the course of our lives. In of themselves, there may be nothing evil about these things and many more that I did not mention. They can all be a wonderful gift from God. However, as shown in Scripture, the gifts of God can frequently become idols in our lives.
Jesus was clear. No one can serve two masters. No one. If obtaining anything else than Christ becomes the driving force in my life, then, according to Jesus, I am not serving Him. I am serving whatever that other thing is. I am worshiping it because I have valued it more than Christ. In reality, I am worshiping myself because I have placed my wants and desires above the desires of God for my life. I have placed myself on the throne. How easily and quickly this can happen in our lives. I find it to be a constant battle in my life. Instead of beholding the wonder of Christ and all that we have in Him, I become engulfed in my own self pursuits and desires. Instead of worshiping Christ and being transformed into His image, I allow myself to be satisfied by cheap substitutes, which never satisfy for long and have little or no eternal value.
Our lives are so cluttered with many things. We place so much importance on finding those things which will bring us happiness. Yet, there is a simple peace and joy that comes from being satisfied in Christ. When our gaze is fixed on Christ, everything else comes into proper focus. For then, we truly worship and our lives and priorities flow out of that worship and satisfaction. Our son, Caleb, values the simple things in life and he delights in them. Many of the trappings of life do not faze him, mostly because he does not understand them. He has the mind of a child in a man’s body. However, didn’t Jesus say to come to Him like a child? There is joy in simplicity. Simple trust. Simple life. Simple joys. Simply treasuring Christ, our Savior, and trusting Him for each moment of each day. This life is a gift. If we are in Christ, we have true life, for it is not just for our brief days on earth, but for eternity in glory with Christ. This is the life.
Together for His glory…