Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As they looked... as i watched...

I watched him as he looked at the ruins of another man's wealth. Intrigued by the long lost splendor of mansions and gardens, servants and sailing ships ---- the emptiness of it all could be easily felt as the ocean breezes whistles through the remnants of days long gone. To imagine the grand parties and elaborate celebrations.  Horse drawn carriages had dropped their cargo of finely dressed women and strutting men of success; each of them had passed through this doorway where my 17 year old treasure now stood.
It's awe-inspiring and so stimulating to the imagination --- how did it really feel, all those years ago, to live in such grandeur? With 300 servants managing the home and gardens, meals and laundry. How did their world really feel? Were they kind to one another? Did they love as we love? Were they selfish or self-centered? Who or What was their God(s)? Did they talk with my Father in Heaven? Was He a guest in their home?

During our annual trip to camp on Cumberland Island, Steve, Maggie, Peter, and i spent a couple of days playing all around this crumbled castle. We laughed and talked and "let time go lightly" and wondered aloud ---- did the people who called this place home over a hundred years ago ---- love each other as we do? Did they walk with Christ in the elaborate, servant-manicured gardens?

As i watched Maggie photograph the property inch by inch ---- i prayed for her. That she would not be drawn into the secret desire of "wanting". It's a trap you know. We see something fine and beautiful and imagine it to be something more than it is actually. We romanticize it's graceful lines and wonder.
But what does scripture say about this ----
"It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house." Proverbs 21:9 and Proverbs 25:24 
(Hmmm - it was even worth saying twice in the Bible)
Lord may our Maggie remain a gentle woman who makes any home seem a palace because of your goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and peacefulness flowing through her within its walls.

As i watched Peter walk through the ruins of the mansion and playfully bike through the long gone gardens ---- i prayed for him. That he would not be intrigued to pursue great wealth over the pursuance of a great life with God. We can plan and pursue, seek out the best college, work towards the best paying careers, hope to marry the most beautiful of ladies and provide in grandiose ways --- filling ourselves up with thoughts of great success, influence, and even fame. But what does God's Word say about this ---
"I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:4, 9-11
Lord may Pete value above everything else ---- a life spent with you. May he walk in your ways; may he recognize what is not of you, and choose the better path. May he know success as it is defined by you. May Pete recognize the difference in worldly wealth and Heavenly gain. And if you, GOD, so choose that Pete experience worldly wealth, may he have a heart to insure it is used for Heavenly gain. May Pete someday share life with a lady who loves you and your ways Lord more than the things of this world.

I know very little about Thomas and Lucy Carnegie and their 9 children. Their legacy can not be seen in the ruins of Dungeness.  They may have loved the Lord deeply, they may have been generous and selfless, kind and upright in all their ways. They may have walked with God. They may not have --- i do not know.
What i do know --- is that now all they had ---- is gone. It stands in ruins and their chance to make a lasting difference in the world is past.

What a sobering reminder --- our days are numbered --- we really can't take it with us when we go. What we do while we are here matters --- it matters to the people around us and to the God over us.

Will our children be able to go farther - do more - be stronger - walk more closely with God ---- as a result of what they saw in our lives? Or ...
There can be great "lack" within the most magnificent walls.
There can be great "wealth" within the most simple of homes.

It's not the place where we live or the home we provide that makes a nickels worth of difference.

It's all about 
what we did, 
what we said, 
how we lived, 
and how we loved 
that will remain ------- 
long after we are gone. 

I watched him as he looked at the ruins of another man's wealth... and prayed.

Psalm 49:10-20 (Message)
10-11 Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
      wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
   They leave all their prowess behind,
      move into their new home, The Coffin,
   The cemetery their permanent address.
      And to think they named counties after themselves!

 12 We aren't immortal. We don't last long.
      Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

 13-15 This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
      who only look out for themselves:
   Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
      they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
   They waste away to nothing—
      nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
   But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
      he reaches down and grabs me.

 16-19 So don't be impressed with those who get rich
      and pile up fame and fortune.
   They can't take it with them;
      fame and fortune all get left behind.
   Just when they think they've arrived
      and folks praise them because they've made good,
   They enter the family burial plot
      where they'll never see sunshine again.

 20 We aren't immortal. We don't last long.
      Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

Photos taken by Steve and Maggie on Cumberland Island, GA of Dungeness Ruins

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