Piles of stuff. That is what I saw the most of in Joplin this past weekend. Not piles of whole things but piles of pulverized things. It felt strange to sift through belongings, things that had probably taken years to acquire. All of it was literally rubble. Things people had worked so hard to get. Tiny little pieces of things that we were once whole. Things that people had dreamed of, things people had used in their living. Not just smashed and scratched things but fragments, pieces...trash.
What I have wanted probably more than anything in life, as far as material things go, is a house. My dream house is one that I would plan and design and draw the details of. It wouldn't be too big or fancy, but it would be just right. I would stand with my hands on my hips trying desperately to make the builder understand my vision and my dream. I would search high and low (and all over Canton) for the perfect things. A house that has special little things around every corner and a house that is comfy. A house that is beautiful and has beautiful things.
After a weekend of raking through demolished things, I remember that I don't need the things...or the design or the plans or the special little touches. All of that is destined to be debris. No matter what, that stuff will eventually become fragments and pieces and trash--that someone else will be sifting through.
And when they are sifting, I so want them to realize what Joplin taught me:
What will survive the literal and metaphorical storms of life are the things that relationships are made of. Things like stories shared, help extended, lessons learned, games played...laughter and tears, conversations over coffee, hugs, jokes, prayers, high fives, and encouragement. Simply--time spent with one another. All of these kinds of things, when built upon a foundation of Christ and held together with His love, form something that is very strong and indestructible. Relationships built on Truth, things of eternal value, are what we need to be working at, searching for, pouring our time and our talents and our hearts into.
Relationships based on truth do not turn to debris.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Pray for the people of Joplin. It is such a special place. If you would like to serve or donate, please contact Mission Joplin.