Later that week, my Red Cross "Disaster Action Team" ("DAT") got called out about 10:30 at night to respond to an apartment fire in a small neighboring town. It took my teammates and I more than an hour to reach our destination. As we began surveying the damage and talking to the displaced residents, I recognized one of the men -- a very tall, big-framed man. Although he and I were both "out of our element", we recognized that we were both members of the same church and had shared a few conversations and even a car ride at one point. I knew his wife and children, too. His son and I had a puppy obedience class together.
At first, I had a hard time recognizing him. I then realized his drug use had caught up with him, causing him to look a bit bloated and creating an odd color to his skin. He smiled and seemed happy to see me, but he also appeared a bit uncomfortable ... embarrassed. He knew that I knew. His wife had told me what had happend to his business and their marriage. His drug abuse had forced his brothers to kick him out of the successful family business and his wife to leave him.
Here was a man who, as we would say, "had everything" -- great business and career, well respected in the community and the church, financially successful, materially blessed, etc. Tragically, his drug use took control of him, resulting in losing everything. He went from a successful life in a nice community to living in a rundown apartment in a tired little town.
Bill, on the other hand, was a man who had financially struggled all his life. He did make a decent living as a sales rep; but, he did experience a long period of close to two years of unemployment. But, he somehow still managed to make it through that rough period and come out on top. Bill was a man that was deeply loved by the community, and it was so obvious at the funeral. He had touched many people's lives with his kindness, wit, and charm.
I thought of these two men as I started studying the Matthew this week. Bill was far richer than the second man. His wealth was one that was stored up in heaven. From Matthew's recording of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal." (Matthew 6:20)As I drove home that night from the Red Cross call, my mind was like a washing machine, churning and spinning those two men and their lives ... what they had done with the time given them.
My prayer: Lord, help me to be a good steward of all that you have given me. Let me never take a single day for granted nor ever fail to lend a smile or helping hand to a single person. When times get tough, make me tougher, relying solely on You. May I never thoughtlessly throw away my true treasures: people. May I blessing to them. And Lord, please help your child that is so lost in drugs. Give him strength Lord, that he might find his way back to You -- to real life, to real peace. Amen.