A life lesson from moss.
Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)
I have heard the axiom numerous times: “Take control of your possessions, or they will control you.” We tend to think that we have dominion over the things of this world—holding on to our possessions, our visions, our passions, our abilities. Yet we forget, sometimes, that none of them are ours. At some points God strips the gifts He gives us out of our life, pulling our greed, fear, and weakness to the forefront of our consciousness.
Sometimes we are like Job. The LORD may say, “Consider my servant…they are blameless and upright, a child who fears God and shuns evil.” He trusts our ability to withstand trial and so removes objects of affection from our life. Relationships, jobs, stability, even our desire for worship may end. And yet how many of us, like Job, fall on the ground in worship and say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:20)?
Others of us find kinship with Abraham, who was offered a promise—a covenant—and was still called to relinquish one of the most precious parts of his life. Our stones do not feel like bread as we are called to tie things we love to the altar, be they addictions, self-love, dependencies on people, and even seemingly good relationships or circumstances. Yet Abraham worshipped God for testing his faithfulness and remaining faithful Himself. He created an altar on Mount Moriah and called it “The LORD Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14).
We think that by establishing our roots deep in the gifts of God that we will be provided for. The virtue of stability teaches us to remain faithful to the place, people, and blessings we have been given. But we are called to cling lightly. Like the rich moss that covers soil and the roots of trees, we are called to invest in, cultivate, and bring life to the barren places in the world. But we must never forget this world is not ours and thus our roots must not hold too firmly to the soil. Since the treasures we are called to store are in heaven, we like Job and Abraham must be prepared for God to take our blessings away. And, at the end of each trial, we must confidently proclaim “The LORD WILL provide.”