Never Seem to be Able to Get Ahead
Written By Chaplain Chris Belfield
It was one of those rare and cherished moments. You know – the kind where you wish it could be frozen in time and preserved, but all too soon passes into the recesses of the memory and just as quickly fades away into obscurity. I had taken a moment to consider the state of affairs in life and also around the home. All major projects had been addressed. Several new ones were actively and successfully in the works. Finances were cooperating so that there was a little spare for unforeseen contingencies. This is significant when you are retired and on a fixed income. Every dollar is accounted for and plans are made accordingly. But this particular day, we were going to come out ahead for the month. That is until the dog, Maggie, had to let us know that something was amiss. Cathy called my attention to the fact that Maggie was intrigued by something occurring under the back of my truck. Now, I am very attached to my '99 Ford F-150, as I have been the only owner and she (yes, it's a she with a name – Hannah) has been very reliable until recently. On this particular day, Maggie made note that there was a white fluid leaking from a rear shock absorber. Sure enough, the seal had broken and the fluid was gone. A replacement for sure, and you don't replace shocks singularly, but in pairs. So it was that the contingency fund was going to take a significant reduction as Hannah had symptoms of other maladies that the mechanic doctor would have to diagnose and treat accordingly. Never fails, does it? Just when you think you're getting ahead. Being an optimist, which goes along with being an ordained chaplain, there is a distinct silver lining here. The repair shop is that good that I know that whatever repairs are done, that they are necessary and will last. Definitely an unplanned expenditure, but better now than when it is -20 degrees outside, right? I learned the lesson early in life about the futility of always trying to get ahead and build up a vast financial empire to call my own. I was 11 years old. I had my first paying job – delivering papers. These were not your standard daily newspaper, but rather a weekly paper aptly named, The Advertiser. All it did was list items for sale. It was approximately 10 pages every week. My job was to fold the papers individually, put a rubber band around them and deliver them to approximately 120 houses in our suburban neighborhood. All for one cent per paper for pay. If I was lucky my grandfather would have the papers folded and placed in my cloth carrying bag by the time I got home from school. Sometimes yes, most times no. It took over two hours every Wednesday to do the paper route. I remember times, during the worst of the winter weather when my older sister even was recruited to help. All of this for $1.20 per week. But for an 11-year-old in 1967, this was pretty good. I was counting how much I would have after 1-2-and 3 years. Then reality struck, and it was a sharp lesson that drove the point home. I rode over a nail on my bike. My grandmother, also my
accountant and financial advisor, taught me a valuable lesson very quickly. I had to buy the inner tube from my accumulated savings. The tube was $2.49 – over two weeks of work! That job only lasted two years when I decided that my academic pursuits as a teenager were more important. It was because I finally found someone else who wanted the paper route that was now up to two cents per paper to deliver. Still, I think it was a wise decision to move on. Other treasures can be accumulated at little cost and have huge dividends for years to come, such things as relationships, memories, helping others, and setting a good example. Now, you can always be ahead, and you can take it with you. Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:19-21.
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. May you be blessed by God's word.