The Washing Machine - September 29, 2018
James Collins

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

This week, I read a story about a woman who described an incident in her childhood. When she was a little girl, a wealthy friend of her mother was about to leave the area for an extended time. She would take many of her smaller things with her, but she would need to sell or otherwise dispose of her larger possessions. Knowing that she would probably be coming back in a year or two, she made an arrangement with the girl’s mother. She offered to allow her to keep and use her washing machine while she was gone. The girl’s mother agreed. Their family was quite poor and had never had a washing machine before. (This happened a long time ago!) They enjoyed the washing machine. The little girl marveled at how much easier it was to use this new device rather than washing their clothes by hand.

Finally, after more than a year the wealthy lady returned. She set up housekeeping in town, and retrieved her washing machine from the family. The daughter was sad to see the newfangled machine go. It upset her to think that they would have to return to their old way of washing their clothes by hand. She complained to her mom about it. She said, “I wish the lady would have stayed away forever and left us the washing machine.” The girl’s mom gently replied, “We must not be bitter about having to return the washing machine. It never really belonged to us. That machine was a gift God gave us for a season, and it was a great blessing. Now it is gone, but instead of complaining about not having it anymore, we must thank the Lord for giving it to us for as long as He did.”

As I read that little story, I thought about the fact that everything about our life on this earth is temporary. Blessings come and go. Seasons of our lives arrive and depart. Friendships develop and disintegrate. Children are born, grow up, and leave. Blessings on this earth are not permanent. They come with an expiration date. The problem is, we never get to see that expiration date. How long will this blessing, this season, this relationship, this ministry, this car, this house, this way of life last? God keeps the time of expiration a secret.

The point is: It is important that we recognize God as the Giver of every blessing and give thanks to Him. We must thank Him when the blessing arrives, and we must also thank Him when the blessing is taken away. Many years ago, when Amanda and I got married, we didn’t have much money. I had an old Jeep Wrangler that I drove back and forth to work. God blessed us and that Jeep ran for over ten years. Finally, it started falling apart and I had to get a new vehicle.

Most of God’s blessings are like that. They don’t come with a “lifetime guarantee.” If we get upset with God every time a blessing is taken from us, we will be constantly in a place of frustration and irritation rather than a place of gratitude. While you are on this earth you should enjoy the material and relationship blessings of our kind and generous Heavenly Father. But hold to them lightly. And when they are taken away, be sure and give God thanks for allowing you the time you had them.

Sooner or later we will all be stripped of every temporal blessing and go back to the God who created us. We will take nothing with us but Jesus Christ and His gift of eternal life. This gift and this grace represent the one blessing from Heaven that has no expiration date.

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