Immediately after World War II the allied armies gathered up many hungry, homeless children and placed them in large camps. There the children were abundantly fed and cared for. However, at night they did not sleep well. They seemed restless and afraid.
Finally, a psychologist hit on a solution. After the children were put to bed, they each received a slice of bread to hold. If they wanted more to eat, more was provided, but this particular slice was not to be eaten – it was just to hold.
The slice of bread produced marvelous results. The children would go to sleep, subconsciously feeling they would have something to eat tomorrow. That assurance gave the child a calm and peaceful rest. More tomorrow! Isn’t that really the basic longing deep inside each of our hearts?
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out why we’re that way. The longer I live, the more I see taken away from me. Oh yes, I’ve got more stuff than I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. I’ve got books I’ll never read, work manuals I’ll never work, catalogues I’ll never order from.
Plus, I’ve got jars and jars of assorted nuts and bolts, electric wire nuts, picture-hanging brackets, and curtain rod implements. Stuff. The funny thing about it is that when I need some of this stuff I can never find it, so I wind up going down and buying more stuff.
Would you like to know what I do with the leftovers? I put them in the jar alongside the stuff I was looking for when I went down and bought new stuff. It’s right beside the half empty gallon paint can I saved from one of my projects back in 1991.
Yeah, I got stuff all right but I’m also losing things – lots of things. My mind, for instance. My once active brain picks the dumbest times to go on sabbatical. Some things I’m still good at; some things I’d rather not discuss. I’m sort of like the professor on Gilligan’s Island who was smart enough to make a two-way radio out of a coconut; but didn’t have sense enough to fix a hole in the bottom of the boat. That’s me all right.
And my eyes aren’t as keen as they once were, which might have some redemptive value. At least when I can’t think of someone’s name I can always use the excuse, “I couldn’t see you very well.”
Yes indeed! I want more tomorrow, like the little children in the war camps. I need something to hold on to; something that will let me know that tomorrow is taken care of already. God knew that we were all going to be like those little children. That’s why he so often referred to us as ‘little children’. And one of my favorite ‘little children’ talks Jesus gave, came to us by way of the pen and parchment belonging to Matthew, His disciple:
“Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing,” Jesus said. “Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
That’s better than stuff stuffed into the closet. Better than stuff on shelves in the garage. Better than stuff in jars. That’s even better than sliced bread!
Larry Hatfield is Pastor of Grand Assembly of God in Chickasha, OK.