Seeking Hope
Off the Wall, September
14, 2012

My sister reminded me recently that when my father came to this country from Germany at the age of 30, he carried with him one suitcase. She then made a comment I’ll never forget. She said he stated, “How did I ever accumulate all these possessions.”

But really, when you think of it, can’t we all fill his shoes? We live in a country where things are more of a god to us than God himself. The majority of my dad’s things were books for research from his earlier days here in our country. One would often see him sitting at his desk reviewing notes he had made after jotting down facts. In addition, he would follow the latest happenings around the world and write to “all” the senators and representatives including the president of our United States. His concerns were many.

As much as I admired my father, he did so with the inclination of hope, wanting to learn the language, and second, get a good education so he could establish himself and give of his learned talents to contribute to the growth of a company or industry.
I believe he never would have set foot on our soil, had he not had one thing in mind –
hope. And everything he did, his many accomplishments, and even beginning a family, stemmed from that one word. That is my subject for today.

Everything we have in life pretty much is based around being introduced to an idea, thinking about it and then deciding how we are going to follow through.

To give an example, a visitor may come into my kitchen, and I may offer him a glass of cold ice water. He may turn down my offer and request bottled water instead. Now he may request to be further fed, and that is his hope that I may oblige. As you see, each person here had something in mind before they carried out their acts – to give and be given, both acts of hope.

Many people who buy from home networks, such as HSN and QVC, use that purchase as a way of fulfillment. To them, it’s a way to look forward as to the products’ arrival. Hoping to know when it will be sent out on a particular day, knowing how long it will be in transit and actually waiting for the delivery company to drop off the packages all falls under one category – hope. For some people, this is how our possessions add up and we have more than we know what to do with.

Then there is the old expression of “Keeping Up With the Jones,” phrasing that became all too familiar in my growing up years. I know many folks of the younger generation who may not be knowledgeable as to these five words. Let’s say you live next store to Mr. and Mrs. Tarnished Silver. They reside in a three story modern house with beautiful landscaping, an asphalt driveway, air conditioning, and all the modern conveniences some people feel they must have to survive in this life.

Next store live the Bristle brothers, who we’ll call Harry and “Stubb.” They have a nice house, don’t have their yard groomed to perfection, but nevertheless nice in appearance. On top of that, their means are not as great as the Silver’s, so they can only afford so much. But here again, in order to look good, they feel they have to make as many investments as possible so they will fit right in to their neighbor’s luxurious living style. So many people have their minds set on “status seeking” even though they have to cut corners to do so.

Today in reading scripture, I was reacquainted with the 23rd Psalm. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have read it, however, this time it really hit home. I don’t have space to write it other than to say it has everything one needs to know, through faith, that we really don’t need possessions. Instead, we should adamantly seek God in everything we need and do.

Now, I’m not saying we should have things that we enjoy. I have this machine, some CDs and of course, my fishing stuff. I have manly stuff for remodeling as well, boxes of records I have to maintain for the IRS and reference material needed for stories. How long should I keep it? My take – dispose of it as quickly as possible so it doesn’t pile up. If you have “stuff” and you are unsure what to do with it, put it in a box. If you don’t miss it for two weeks, get rid of it. If you can do this, there is hope for you!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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