About 20 years ago, we had one of our most memorable holidays with our kids. As we headed to the family cottage, we decide to stop for one night at a hotel that had a water park. Our girls would be able to swim and play for hours. Our son was just six months old, and we were loaded down with every piece of baby paraphernalia ever invented (stroller, playpen, etc). I decided that we only needed one overnight bag to take into the hotel. That way I wouldn’t have to unpack the whole van.
It was a great idea and worked well until the next morning when I went out to the van. It wasn’t where I had parked it. I walked around the hotel parking lot three times before being willing to entertain the idea that it had been stolen. And it had been stolen. Not only the van but everything in it. Everything we needed for a three-week holiday, toys, a camera and video camera, my briefcase, favorite blankets and stuffed animals. This was not the best way to start a holiday.
The insurance company was helpful and after the police report, I was able to rent a new van. In the afternoon we loaded up the van with the four kids, one overnight bag with wet bathing suits and headed to my parents. After a few days, the insurance company authorized us to begin replacing what had been stolen. It turned out to be a summer of shopping for new clothes, baby supplies and a video camera. The kids loved it; it was like Christmas every other day. The empty van was found a couple of weeks later.
This all happened on the same vacation when three of the four kids got chicken pox and I sliced open a finger requiring a hospital visit and several stitches. We were glad when we finally got back home. The kids, of course, remember things differently. They loved that summer. They got to travel in a cool new van. They got tons of new clothes and toys. They were just glad to be with us.
For Rhonda and me, as stressful as it was, we made a key decision early on. Standing in the hotel room with the sudden realization that the van and all our stuff was gone a verse came to my mind: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
We told ourselves that it was “only stuff’. Our four children (our treasures) were safe and sound and none of us were in danger. The really important things in life were right in the room with us; the rest (the stuff) was just wood, hay and stubble meant for the fire.
That moment of clarity, of finding perspective, has stayed with us. Our life has not been about the abundance of things we can accumulate or hold on to. We have moved internationally a couple of times and have left many things behind. We know that it can all be gone quickly. We know that together we were raising four children for eternity. The focus had to be on them and not all the stuff we thought we needed for living.
Enjoy these quieter and longer days of summer. I hope you make some wonderful memories, but don’t forget to treasure the things that are truly important.