Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Proverbs 23, verse 5.
Yesterday I was talking about attaining wealth; today let’s talk about it passing away. Be advised: this could be rather glum, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn’t a train. Yesterday was a tough, depressing, rainy day here in the upper Midwest. My mood is very down for a number of reasons and I’m not feeling very wealthy in any way right now. We all have those kinds of days, I suppose, but this one was especially hard. At times like these, you realize your spirit is under attack, that it’s difficult to resist the temptation to want to give up.
On a day like that it is easy to see that wealth doesn’t last. I worked for years in military systems to keep the world safe from those evil Soviet hordes. It was what was needed at the time, but the systems I worked with are long gone to the junkyard. Kind of depressing to know my hard work, my mission, is no longer needed. These days, I work in healthcare IT. Latest & greatest technology right? Um, not in American health insurance, which is my specialty. One thing I learned early on is that you are constantly working towards implementing software that is immediately obsolete. That’s depressing too. You work feverishly in an area where complexity and “turf” are highly meaningful only to have your hard work become desirably replaceable once you finally get it done right.
The common denominator in those somber facts is that they’re expensive. When the money is spent, the riches fly away. It’s easy to watch it happen, especially if it’s someone else’s money. How many of us lost our retirement savings in the last few years? Cast a glance at it because it flew away.
Friendships fly away too. I think I’ve lost my best friend. For years she’s been my best friend and more. She kept me alive, made me want to live, inspired and comforted me. Lately we’ve been arguing; now we’re not talking at all, and I am heartbroken by it. Devastated actually. I feel like part of me has died and I’m having a hard time going on. For some men it wouldn’t be this hard, but that’s just not the case for me. There are very few people to whom I pour out my entire being, but she was one and now she’s gone from my life. Where do you go from that? My life has been made rich by having her in it, priceless even. But the riches feel like they are gone, flown away like an eagle. Glancing at them as they fly away makes me cry. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do now because the days just hurt and I am having a hard time knowing where to turn now.
Homes, cars, possessions; jobs, positions, money; bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit accounts: cast but a glance at these things and they are gone. Of far more value are the people we love. Fathers, mothers, wives and husbands, children, friends and best friends: they are worth so much more than some stupid dollar signs. Cast a glance and they could be gone too.
Through it all, God never changes. Real love is His love; we can glance at it all day long and it will never be gone. It never sprouts wings to fly away like an eagle. His love is the riches and is the wings, sky and eagle. It is in all those things, around them, of and through them and for Him, for us. In the dark days like those this week, He is still there, like the captain of a ship in a storm. In the happy days, He celebrates with us. He is consistent in both of those things, never changing, never glancing, never leaving. If you read the Psalms closely, you read of the torment an ancient David felt and how he desperately sought comfort for his aching and tortured soul. He sought his comfort in God, proclaiming how He was his sure stronghold and defense even as those troubles never seemed to cease. Whoever wrote today’s verse understood that as well, understanding how things of this world go away but His love and His words never go away. That thought came into completion hundreds of years later; check out Matthew 24.
I take great comfort in knowing this. King David did too, yet even in doing so, I’m betting many of the days of his life were hard to face, even knowing that God ‘had his six.’ That’s where I am today, but what else can you do but try to go on? Today I’ll get going and make the best of it. I will give my best at work, fly home and see my family, and hopefully get some much needed rest. There’s happiness there if only I’ll let myself be part of it. I’ll work to remember these things while I’m on the job, cycling through the airport, and riding the jet home. I’ll pray for the best friend anyone could have, sending His love and mine out to her wherever she is and wherever she’s going. I hope she too finds good comfort in knowing that.