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Friday, October 23, 2009

Trading Your Life

Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do no break through or steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20)

For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and shall lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
(Matthew 6:26)

The Walt Disney classic children's reader Goofy-on the Hillside begins "There once was a simple fellow named Goofy who lived on the side of a hill. He was called Goofy-on-the Hillside." We are told that his only neighbor was a "kind farmer named Mrs. Hay." They had a fine relationship. "'A good friend is worth more than a bag of gold', Mrs. Hay always said." One day Mrs. Hay, needing some money, asked Goofy to take her cow to town and sell it for her.

Having never read up on the law of bailments, Goofy began to trade along the way. His trades were unfortunate and by the time he reached town he had only two eggs. Being famished, he decided to get some bread at the bakery. After telling the baker the story, the baker was incredulous: "You traded a cow for two eggs?" cried the baker." "Of course not", said Goofy. "I traded the cow for a horse, the horse for a pig, the pig for a goat, the goat for a hen, and the hen for some eggs, but most of them broke."

Goofy assures the baker that because he and Mrs. Hay are friends, she will not be angry. The baker decides to accompany Goofy back to the farm: "I would like to see a friend as good as that!" said the baker.

On their arrival at the farm, Goofy relates the story to his neighbor. Mrs. Hay is at first dismayed "'A loaf of bread?' she cried." "'Yes', said Goofy 'I was hungry.'" To which the kind Mrs. Hay replied "Well, if you were hungry, I'm glad you could eat." This leaves, however, a practical problem, "But now I cannot fix up my farm," said Mrs. Hay. "I have no money." Goofy says he will fix up the farm for her and the baker agrees to help. The story ends with the three of them on the front porch of the newly renovated farmhouse eating a cake that the baker prepared. Mrs. Hay thanks them for their help, to which the baker replies, "That is what friends are for." The narrator gives Goofy the last word, "And you know," said Goofy, "a good friend is worth more than a bag of gold."

If you have read this far, you may have noticed that this is not just a story for children. We are all trading away our lives, whether we want to or not. As the hands of the clock make their twice a day journey, there is no pause button. We literally are spending our time, trading our lives for something. What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? asks the Savior.

Before we leave our story, let us take note of Goofy's response to the baker's question, "You traded a cow for two eggs?" Goofy's reply seems measured, even patient, "Of course not", says Goofy, as though to assure the baker that he wasn't a fool - no sensible person would trade a cow for two eggs, would they? As Goofy saw it, the net result of his efforts (two eggs) was the result of a series of trades, each of which seemed reasonable at the time.

For what will you and I trade our lives today? What is the next hour really worth? How will we spend the opportunities that come across our path? There will come a day when we will stand before a One Who is even kinder than Mrs. Hay, but Who will nevertheless require of us an accounting. Now if any man build upon this foundation [Christ] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet as by fire. I Cor. 3:12-15

Lord, this is almost too convicting. If I am to make a right application of this lesson, you must turn up the intensity of Your life in me. Grant me to see with Your eyes the trades that I am making as I go through my day. Let me not miss the chance to multiply the talents that you have entrusted to me. Help me to see that doing a small thing for Your sake and with Your great love, can be gold, silver or precious stones.

~ With thanks to Brent McBurney, Director of Attorney Ministries, Christian Legal Society

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