Gone with the Wind

 

Gone with the Wind!

(photo msn

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Most of us have heard of the award-winning move of the 1930s, entitled “Gone with the Wind.”  It was a story of the devastation of the south at the time of the American Civil War.  Those Southerners who lived through the event found that their property and possessions were destroyed and the economy ruined.  All of it was “gone with the wind” of war.

Life can be like that.  Throughout life, we strive for success but may suffer one defeat after another.  We may give our heart to physical achievement, but then our health breaks and we are left with nothing.  We may raise a family, only to have the children turn away in their selfishness and rebellion.  We may be diligent in the pursuit of a business, but eventually must close down the business because of a downturn in the economy or because we can’t continue the work because of illness.  Life brings many of these disappointments, and our achievements are “gone with the wind.”

A friend of mine, one who has devoted his life to his children and has made many sacrifices to home school and provide for them, has been left with an aching heart—since they turned away from him and his careful Christian instruction.  Another friend had severe and chronic marital problems, and now all of the children are suffering the consequences.  Our experience may give similar illustrations of the way our life encounters one crisis after another, and we are left with little in the aftermath.

Recently I discovered that my life-long health practices have not been sufficient to keep me from spinal degeneration.  Decades of good nutrition, extensive exercise, and the avoidance of harmful practices were insufficient to preserve me from these physical disabilities.  Much of this is unexplainable, and we are left wondering what we did wrong.  Perhaps we will never know.

About six months ago, I lost my job after 28-years of faithful, devoted, and responsible service.  Regardless of the good record and job seniority, it was a simple matter for my employer to get rid of me.  It was entirely a matter of my Christian convictions and lifestyle that led to the loss of this employment.  Maybe you have lost a job in a similar manner.  We simply cannot place ultimate confidence in our profession or occupation.  This too can go with the wind!

During the long tenure at this job, I developed extensive friendships and many seemed to appreciate me.  Although these were mostly unbelieving men and women, yet they seemed to be civil, friendly, and considerate.  Alas, since the loss of my job, I’ve discovered that most of the relationships were superficial—ones that would not endure the fire.  For the most part, they have gone with the wind!

About a week ago, I called a friend I knew from my childhood but it had been many years since I conversed with him.  He is now legally blind and has suffered one setback after another.  He hasn’t been able to work for many years now.  He thinks he can trace at least some of his maladies to injuries in his youth.  All of this has had a profound effect upon his daily life.  His health and jobs have gone with the wind!

Just today, I determined to call an acquaintance of the past.  Some of you will recognize Robert Shank as the author of Life in the Son, Elect in the Son, Until, and another book that just now I cannot recall.  Many years ago, perhaps in the 1970s or 1980s, I visited him in Mount Vernon, Missouri.  I had found special value in the first of these books.  It was a carefully reasoned, Scriptural defense of eternal life in union with Jesus Christ, and an exposure of the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance and unconditional eternal security.  I recall the last visit with him, perhaps dating back to the early 1990s.  He took me to his specially-built office and study behind his house.  It was unique and admirable—an edifice that he built himself.  The structure was separate from the house and made for study, research, and writing.  A large desk was in the center, with walls of books surrounding, and windows facing his back yard.  To me, this was an ideal arrangement—one that I would have liked to duplicate for my own research and writing.

Today I called and Ruth—Robert’s wife–answered.  She explained that Robert had died two years ago from a stroke, at age 88.  She spoke of his books, his teaching, and his life work.  Then she went on to tell me more of the story.  Some months after her husband’s death, she discovered that water had leaked into his study with the result that mold had contaminated the entire structure and contents.  The insurance man said that it all should be destroyed along with the study itself!  She said that they brought in a dumpster and all of Robert’s sizable library was thrown out and destroyed.  The entire structure was torn down and discarded.  She said that Robert had recently ordered a 3,000 volume reprint of one of his books which they stored in the basement.  This was also damaged by mold and all of them went to the dumpster!  The carpets of the house were also pulled up and went to the dumpster!  All of it was “gone with the wind”!

Isn’t this a lesson for us!  We may labor and strive in life, but everything material will one day pass away.  Peter reminds us that all of it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10-14).  The world and everything in it will pass away (1 John 2:15-17).  Even the things that we have used in the work and service of the Lord will be gone.  As I learned of Robert’s death and the disposal of all of his material possessions—ones that he used in his study and writing—I was reminded of where our true possessions lie. 

Someone has wisely said that ultimate security comes only in that which is eternal and cannot be taken away.  This is where we must place our confidence, our trust, and our focus.  Books, literature, computers, recorders, and the like can be used for God’s service and for His glory.  I trust that this is my own purpose in life.  Yet, when all is said and done, we must only place our confidence in what is spiritual and eternal.  Paul, the apostle, put it very well:

We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Our bodies will become ill, may be injured, and can disappoint us.  Eventually we will die.  Our friends and acquaintances may prove untrue.  Our homes will decay and disintegrate, with time.  All of this may happen.  But, thanks to God, the spiritual and eternal will not be “gone with the wind”!

Richard Hollerman

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