Our Most Valuable Possessions
By DANNY MINTON
At the end of the movie “The Time Machine,” the primary character, George, makes one final journey to a time century in the future. His friends arrive at his home to find him gone and contemplate where he traveled. They look toward a row of books during the discussion and notice three books missing. The question they ponder at the end of the story is, “What books did he take?” The question has created many discussions among different viewers with various combinations of choices. What would be the most important books to take to a world that is in the process of a new beginning?
As I write this article, the “Mesquite Heat Fire” continues to burn less than ten miles from our home. We have had friends who lost their homes, and some are still unsure what they will find when they return. Dozens of people had to pack up what was important to them and leave the majority of what they owned behind to the uncertainty.
As I listened to interviews, people would mention what meant the most to them. Their first concern was always family and animals. The value of life remained the priority. People would gather their pets and hope those they couldn’t find would be safe. Ranchers looked for ways to move their horses and livestock to safety. Saving lives was the priority. People would then mention what they grabbed to take with them for safekeeping. A mother’s Bible, a baby’s keepsakes, essential papers, or some irreplaceable item topped the lists. The reoccurring theme that threaded every interview was that the things they lost were just that, things. Things could be replaced.
I’m positive most of us would have the same feeling when faced with choosing what the most important things in our lives are. Some things mean a lot to us that we would grab at the last minute, usually irreplaceable keepsakes. However, our loved ones always come first on our list of what means the most to us. Our priority would be to secure their safety in the face of danger. Arguments, disagreements, and controversies of the past would fade away to concern for physical protection.
These thoughts instill a new question. If the lives and safety of family mean so much in times of turmoil and danger, shouldn’t they mean as much during times of peace and safety? What means the most to us deserves special care. The Word is full of thoughts on relationships. Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Ephesians 5:25 (NASB) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Matthew 19:19 (NASB) “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Proverbs 17:17 (NASB) “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:6 (NASB) “Grandchildren are the crown of old men, And the glory of sons is their fathers.”
In the story of “The Time Machine,” George could do nothing to change the past. He tried to convince his friends of what the future held but failed. The one thing he could do was help to change the future. George grabbed three books and headed “back to the future,” a future that he could help. The most important things in our lives are those around us, family, and friends. Our efforts should be to help broken relationships and show love and grace to those we count valuable to us. We cannot change the past, but we can take steps to secure the future. Someone so important that we would be concerned in times of disaster should be just important when things are peaceful. In these times, we have the opportunity to show and tell them what they mean to us.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today.'” Hebrews 3:13 (NASB) George needed three books to impact the lives of those in the future that were important to him. What do you need to show those close to you how much they mean to you?
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
I have often contemplated the question you raise–“what would I save if I had to run away from my burning home?” I find it comforting that most people choose symbols of relationships rather than objects of material value.