Someone once said, "You wouldn't need a house if you didn't have so much stuff … that's all a house is: a pile of stuff with a cover over it." This is why people have basements and attics, and even garages. The garage was made for your car, but your car sits in the driveway because your garage is so full of stuff. I just turned 50, and I'm finding that life-and the stuff in my life-is looking different.
When we're young, we pack things away, at first in our parents' house but eventually in our own space. Some of it is stuff we think might come in handy one day. But there are also treasured items that we keep so we can remember moments and accomplishments, or that connect us concretely with them so they don't slip away as though they never happened … like our dreams each night. That autographed copy of a book I've never read and never will. The MVP trophy from wrestling in the 12th grade. But eventually it's just a thing that displaces the actual accomplishment. The stamp collection. The hockey card collection. You cart them around, and at some point you ask, "Why?" No one even collects them anymore. Never mind the decorative plate with images of Myrtle Beach that doesn't help you remember the great family vacation you had and that no one wants even for 10 cents at a yard sale.
I remember when an old woman in my church died. I looked around her living room at all the little things she had on display and that were important to her, but to no one but her. Little crafts, souvenirs, and old teacups. I saw my future. One thinks of Charles Foster Kane breathing out "Rosebud" on his deathbed while workers throw his little boyhood sled and all his other stuff into a furnace.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews compares the Christian life to a race in which the runner casts off everything that would weigh him down and hold him back (Hebrews 12:1). He fixes his eyes on the goal set before him. So instead of hanging onto things from the past for fear of losing the life you've lived, we should use our time and resources to live life profitably for God and neighbor now so that when life has run its divinely appointed course we have more to show for it than stuff that our survivors will toss.