by Lance Odeneal
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Throughout my life, it has been my quest to find out what it is that is really important. When I first started my search years ago, there seemed to be so many things that were important. Was I saving enough money to retire? How would I buy a big enough house? Did I drive a nice car? Did I have the right clothes... and on and on the list went.
At the time, there seemed to be so many things that were important to me, but the more I search, and as time passes, the list grows smaller and smaller.
My list began to shrink as I watched and listened to my 4 year old son, Ryan.
Ryan has always been a happy little boy who is just glad to be on board. I began to understand why as I listened to him and saw the things that made him happy. There was the night that I tucked him in bed, still wearing his brand new pair of shoes. After giving me a good night kiss, he looked up at me and said, "Oh, Daddy, I love my new shoes so much, thank you!" He had no idea that they were not a brand name or that they had only cost 3 dollars, nor did he even care. He was just thankful for having them.
Then there was the day that I had been talking to him about how I wished we had a bigger home. Almost in disbelief that I wasn't happy, he said, "But, Daddy, I love our little house, let's keep it." Then he went on to say "When I get married one day, Dad, can we stay here, too?"
Again, he showed me true thankfulness. Our house may be small, but it keeps him dry in the rain, warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. What else could he ask for?
It took several more profound statements from Ryan before things finally started to sink in.
Then it really hit me one night as I lay in bed. Due to the size of our house, our family had grown to the point that we had to move all of the beds into one room. IT was now literally the "bed" room. To look at us from a worldly standpoint, we looked like we didn't have a whole lot. I looked on the left side of our bed and there lay our 6 month old baby, Joel, sleeping peacefully in his baby bed. Then I looked to my right and there lay Ryan sleeping in his bed.
As I reached over, not even having to get out of bed to cover him up and kiss his cheek, I thought that I truly am the richest man in the world.
As I continue my search, a couple of things continue to stand out to me. Ask anyone who has lived a long and full life what is important and you will never hear them say "I just wish that I could have made a little more money". No, nine times out of ten they will say something like "I just wish that I would have spent more time with my family, enjoy them while you can."
The other thing that stands out to me is, that no matter how much you accumulate on this earth, the only thing that you can take to Heaven is other people. I want more than anything for that to be my family.
God has truly given me a precious family and more and more every day I find out just how precious they are. I think that the greatest lesson that I have learned so far on the search is that things will come and things will go, but there will only be one first step, one first skinned knee, one first home run and one first date. Then there will come the day when the firsts will be over and my children will be grown. I will have raised them to adults and I will no longer hear "Can I have a glass of milk?" Or "Can you make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" They will be able to stand alone, adults, embarking on their own journey.
When that day does come, the memories of their precious childhoods will live only in my mind to be played over and over again. And through is all, when it's all said and done, you can know one thing. Things will still come and things will still go.
I will now pray every day to not get caught up in the things and the cares of this world. Those I will always have, but my children will grow up.
I will hug a little longer, play a little more, throw one more ball, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Article copyright© 1999-2001, Lance Odeneal
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