My husband used to pay weekly visits to an elderly lady who was home bound. She expressed often how much his visits meant to her, but they were an equal blessing to him. Though his visits were intended to be an encouragement to her, he always left having been the one who was encouraged.
Her failing health caused her to have to eventually move away to another town to be closer to her children. Soon after she moved we heard she was living in a nursing home. My husband made a few trips to visit her there, and she remained faithful with her encouragement. Though he went out of his way to minister to her, she was the one who always did the ministering.
During one of their visits together she shared how she came to the decision to live in a nursing home. One day she decided to admit herself without any coercion from her family or friends. She told her children to do whatever they wanted with her house and all of her belongings. It mattered not to her whether they chose to divide her things among themselves or sell all of it. She told them she was fine with whatever they chose to do.
She admitted that she was worried at first about what would happen to her belongings. But a thought changed her perspective. As she contemplated and talked with the Lord she thought to herself, "Would you be worried about your stuff if you were dead?" She thought to herself, "No." Then she thought, "Just live like you're dead." She told my husband that after that moment she no longer cared about her things because she was living like she was dead.
This woman was healthy enough to continue living in her own home. Her family was near enough to her to suppliment any extra care she needed. She was not depressed nor had she given up on life.
My husband was able to visit her a few more times over the next few years, and she continued to be her encouraging self up until she died. She had simply let go of what mattered the least and had embraced more of what mattered most.
It mattered most to her to live her last days unentangled by materialistic clutter. She knew if she continued to hang on to her stuff, her last days would be filled with deciding who got what. She didn't want to leave life that way. She wanted to leave life focused on strengthening her relationships with her family and with God rather than being encumbered by emotions that were attached to things. She was an incredible woman.
There are not many who could do as this woman did. Most of us are driven by our egos to build our own kingdoms. We are very selfish, and we like to hold on to our stuff, our plans, our wants, our desires. We clutter our lives with what matters very little.
Haggai 1:6 says, "You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes," (ESV).
Haggai was confronting those who claimed it was not time to rebuild the temple of the Lord. Though they had worked hard providing houses for themselves, they had failed to provide for the house of the Lord. The prophet was pointing out how they had wasted their efforts on things that mattered little while neglecting what mattered most.
We do the same. We work hard towards building what matters most to us yet neglect what matters most to Him. The result is our wasted efforts are put into bags with holes. What we've worked so hard to achieve for self-preservation purposes ends up slipping through holes and scattering on the ground. And, in the end, we're left with nothing to show for all of our building and working.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself," (ESV).
God's kingdom is about loving Him and loving others. We say we love God and others, but we rarely act like we do. We act like we love only ourselves. But what if we actually decided to live by these two commandments? What if we changed from being ego driven to being love driven? What if we prioritized our relationships with God and others over selfish gain? What if we lived like we were dead? Jesus did. I think we're supposed to be acting like Him.