If there is one thing that my wife, Mrs. Kristie Murphy, likes more than anything it has to be an estate sale. She is not big on garage sales, but let an estate sale sign appear on the horizon and her blood begins to do strange things.
It is very common when someone dies for the surviving family to sell off their possessions that they themselves do not want to keep. I can tell you for a fact that I have been to a lot of estate sales. The selling price seems to depend on who is doing the sale. If it is a company that specializes in that, then the prices are usually higher. Some are reasonable, and some, well we will just say they are unreasonable. But, the ones that are the best are done by members of the family. The specialist knows the going prices on the various merchandise. The family members most often do not. They will bargain and deal, doing whatever it takes, to get rid of all the stuff and get back to their normal lives. Whatever they collect they feel is a blessing and a victory and an end to it all.
If you have never been to an estate sale, it will simply amaze you at the things that are sold. Coffee mugs that someone gave uncle Joe, socks, shoes, fishing poles, you name it. Sometimes there might be a car or truck and almost always a gas can. You name it and you will find it somewhere.
Garage sales are worse. Those precious things someone horded all their lives are reduced to ten cents, twenty-five cents or a dollar. Sometimes a little more and sometimes, even less. I’ve seen stuff bagged up and marked a dollar just to get it off the property.
Both of these kinds of sales excite me and make me sad at the same time. I’m always excited to get a deal…. It’s in my blood. I am CHEAP, if you don’t believe me you can ask Glenn Slack. He is a close friend of mine and is a realtor. Glenn tried to help find my wife and I a house three years ago in Todd County. Glenn will tell you that I am the cheapest man he has ever met. In fact, Glenn has given me a nickname, “Reverend Lowball”. If you ask Tommy Harris at Tommy’s Quality Used Cars in Guthrie or Larry Lathem at Mansfield Chevrolet and they will both tell you that I love to haggle in buying a car; I actually find it quite fun. But getting back to the story at hand, I’ve never been to either one of these kinds of sales following someone’s death that it doesn’t make me sad. And, that is especially true of garage sales. It is sad to me that someone’s life is reduced to a few measly dollars. The family might walk away with a few thousand dollars or simply a few hundred. Either way, it is a sad conclusion of a life.
I’ve told my wife, “When I croak, be sure you do not sell this cheap.” Some of the stuff we’ve collected we’ve even recorded in a database so the value would be more accurately established. But, even then, it will still be reduced to only a fistful of dollars.
You cannot prejudge anyone by their possessions or the disposition of them. You cannot walk among someone’s things and judge the value of their lives. You might be able to guess their financial status to some degree, but even that could be deceptive. But, I know this, when I am dead and gone I want my life to be more than a fistful of dollars.
I want to know somehow, somewhere, God has allowed me to leave a mark on this world. It may be in the lives of one or two, but one or two counts.
You and I know completely that God works through us and that anything we accomplish on this earth is Him working in us. It is Him, not us. We acknowledge and embrace it, but we want to feel that we have been faithful stewards of those things he has entrusted to our care. We want to count for something.
There are people all over the world who sit in loneliness and despair because they feel that they are of no value to themselves or to anyone else. There are people living in the lap of luxury who are as empty as a cow bell clanking in a distant pasture. On the other hand, there are those who are almost penniless who know that their lives count for something.
When we are dead and gone, someone will most likely walk away with a fistful of dollars after the cash register rings out its last sale. And, if that is all we count for, we will go down in history among those to be most pitied. However, if we have lived and died in faith, faithfully serving Him who created us in His way and in His time, our lives will have really counted for something. The fistful of dollars might be easier to count, but it will be spent and gone. A life lived in faithful service to God almighty will rise up and speak and live in the lives of others for generations to come. So, when we “cash out,” let’s make sure that the cash is not all that is left behind.
God bless and go Cats!
Rev. Scott Murphy. is the Pastor at the First Christian Church in Russellville