Let Go and Love God by Gaye Clark for The Gospel Coalition
My husband, Jim, loved cars—Mustangs in particular. For years, a small matchbox sufficed for the real thing. When a financial windfall came our way, he bought his dream: a deep red Mustang with a black convertible top.
The day we picked her up, Jim looked like a 5-year-old waiting to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. He dropped the canopy while I searched for a Beatles station. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah . . .” transformed that vehicle into a time-machine joyride. Jim drove his beloved treasure only on weekends, since he wanted her to last.
A year later Jim took his Mustang to University Hospital, where he died from complications after surgery. I carried his clothes and personal items back to his car, sat in the driver’s seat, and wept. We often say someone who has died is with the Lord. I couldn’t comprehend what that meant. Jim and I put many happy miles on this car, but now, without him, it wasn’t the same.
Occupied with Joy
What does it mean for God to keep us occupied with joy? Could it have something to do with our focus being on him and not our circumstances and treasures? The days of my life and the things in it, God says, I won’t remember. But what about a Mustang?
I squeezed the steering wheel of Jim’s dream machine. The day we left the car dealer laughing together seemed like yesterday. I remember. But Jim? For as much as he loved his car, Jim wasn’t giving this sweet ride a moment’s thought. Nor the mahogany antique game table he loved. Ditto the framed set of Star Trek pictures or any other precious-to-him-thing I might name.
There’s Someone he loved more, and Jim now stands in his presence. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” Jim Elliott said. My husband’s car must now seem smaller than the matchbox replica he kept on his desk. The best of what this world has to offer isn’t made for our transition to eternity.
As Don Carson asks, “Is not some of the pain and sorrow in this life used in God’s providential hand to make us homesick for heaven, to detach us from this world, to prepare us for heaven, to draw our attention to himself, and away from the world of merely physical things?”
Things Now Burdens
Jesus warned that “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). I knew that intellectually, but I now know it experientially. As I looked to downsize and relocate, my possessions had become burdens. So, I planned an estate sale. Some friends and family thought I’d lost my mind: