“For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building in the heavens, not made with hands.” – @ Corinthians, 5:1
There is a commercial that’s been around for a while that involves characters named Cheryl and Victor and something known as a “she-shed”. I’m sure you’ve probably seen it. We laugh every time we see it. But sometimes God catches me at the right moment (like now) and uses things like this to lead me down a path of deeper thought. So come take a walk with me.
Apparently, the concept of a she shed is in response to something known as a ‘man cave’. It’s a space where a guy can retreat and do guy stuff- drink beer and watch sports, hang out with his buddies, or just do whatever comes to mind. It can be as simple as a small TV and ice chest in the basement, or as elaborate as a Las Vegas game room. Besides the man cave, guys also have what’s known as the “shop” (here I must plead guilty), a place to collect and work with tools of various types and build things both useful and maybe not so much. In this age of equality, this was unacceptable so the women decided they needed their own space to do their own thing as well. It may simply be a small private area in or away from the house or a rather palatial edifice in the backyard approachable only by royal edict.
Let me hasten to say there’s nothing inherently wrong with the desire to have that special place where I can just be myself and have some uninterrupted time. But it’s the underlying mindset it reflects that can be troubling. If it causes us to focus on ourselves and not on God, then there’s a problem.
The temptation is to start believing that we somehow deserve this. We start focusing on how good we are, how hard we work, and how ‘everyone else’ has just as much, so why shouldn’t I? The world has one rule- the one who has the most stuff is the winner. So we get seduced into chasing after piling up more stuff: a nicer house, a nicer car, more clothes, more toys and playthings, thinking it will make up happier, more fulfilled people.
In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of a man who has come to be known as the Rich Fool. He is a farmer blessed with an unusually large harvest. He’s faced with a dilemma: what to do with all the surplus? His solution is to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. But it’s his conclusion after that gets him into trouble. Having decided to squirrel away his harvest, he decides he can then enjoy the good life for many years, since he has the benefit of a surplus he can dispose at his leisure. God has a different take: he demands the man’s life that night, and it’s left to someone else to dispose of the man’s assets.
We need to maintain a long view of life. That doesn’t mean we should expect this life to last a long time, quite the opposite. We need to keep our focus beyond this life. We need to constantly consider the “then what?”. We get the nice house- then what? We get the man cave/she shed- then what? We get all the stuff our hearts ever desired to make us comfortable and happy-then what? At some point, we will all die, despite mankind’s desperate attempts to make it otherwise. Then what?
Riches aren’t necessarily a curse, just as poverty isn’t in and of itself virtuous. It’s our attitude about our stuff that’s the important factor. If we are wise we recognize God as the source of our blessings, and understand the purpose is for us to be able to provide blessings to others who do not enjoy them. Proverbs 22:9 tells us “A generous person will be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor”. Notice that generosity is not defined in socioeconomic terms. Someone with little can be just as generous (sometimes even more so) than one who has a lot of this world’s ‘stuff’.
We never know when our life here will end. So spend your days building a permanent dwelling on the other side of the vale. You do that by serving God and others. Certainly enjoy the blessings of this life, but don’t get so obsessed with them you fail to focus on more important, lasting things. After all, who gets your man cave or she shed when you’re gone if your kids decide they don’t want it? And what will it matter?