I have possessed three Harley Davidson motorcycles in my life. The second you can see in the picture on this blog. Of all the material things I’ve ever had in my life, this was the most valuable, valued and cherished. I had almost become one with it. When I sold it, I fought back the tears and got all choked up remembering our times together.
I remember buying it. My son, Tim, was with me. I traded it in for the first Harley, which we outgrew. I say we, because the darn boy grew so much that our feet bumped each other on the smaller Sportster when he rode pillion. This would not do! We went to the showroom of the dealership in New Market. There she was. A thing of beauty.
When I look back at that transaction, I think of it quite differently than I did back then. Let’s think through it together. It’s like any other transaction that we participate in. For those not interested in motorcycles (there must be a name for that condition), you can imagine my living room set. My wife, Kathy, and I brought it home a couple of years ago. It’s a nice leather corner sofa with a matching chair.
You see, that motorcycle, or that living room set – or anything else – is not mine. This is how I try to look at the things. It’s more like, I went to the showrooms where these items were, and had them moved to my house. No, wait, I had them moved to the house I was living in. The house wasn’t mine (even though, in one case, my name was on the deed).
How can we say we own anything? God created the universe and everything in it. It’s all his. Am I stating the obvious? If so, then why do we strive so hard to buy the next thing? Why do we covet what others have and become discontent with our own possessions? No, I don’t think I state the obvious at all.
How preposterous it is to stress over getting on the property ladder, which is so difficult in the United Kingdom, or to presume upon fulfilling the American Dream. We can have our names on titles, deeds, or etched on our jewellery, but it doesn’t mean we own it. That patch of ground had been here thousands of years before some guy came along, staked it out, and pretended it was his. The land watches us come and go just like countless people have done before.
So when I saw that beautiful Harley Davidson Softail Custom in the showroom, I chose God’s motorcycle, made from God’s materials by God-created hands, skill and intellect. I paid for it with non-money that sits in the “cloud” somewhere in the form of bits and bytes. It was taken from God’s showroom to God’s garage for prep, and I took it to God’s house where he let me live. Harley Davidson never owned it. Nor did I. We were just at different points in the transaction.
The same is true for the living room set. I liked it. So God let me transfer the non-money from his account that has my name on it to the account that bears the furniture store’s name, after which the furniture was moved to his house he lets me live in. It was his before I saw it and it’s his now. When I sit in my chair with my feet up, I feel like a cherished guest.
Why does it pay to see things this way?
- It’s the truth.
It always helps to recognise the truth.
- It fosters contentment.
If I feel unhappy with my sofa, I start to feel guilty – as if I’m insulting my host’s property! More than this, if I live in a mansion or a tiny shack somewhere, it’s God’s mansion or tiny shack, and what a blessing it is! I should never insult my Landlord!
- It dissuades covetousness.
When we see someone with something that we’ve just got to get our sweaty palms on, it puts things into a better perspective when we know that person doesn’t really own it, whatever it is. It also helps us not have that unhealthy envious feeling of dislike. Sure, he or she has that cool widget, but why covet what they don’t own?
- It loosens our grip.
Thinking this way of material things will help us loosen our grip and will direct our hearts to where our treasure should always be (where moths and rust don’t corrupt (Matthew 6:20-21).
I hope to own another motorcycle again. Or should I say “use” another motorcycle? Keep another? Arrange for the transaction?
Yes, that’s what I mean.