Monday, May 15, 2017
Audi R8 V10 Plus, Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Short, Bentley Continental GT Speed, Lamborghini Veneno, Ferrari Enzo. These are just a handful of the extreme and opulent vehicles of our day. It's not unheard of for a car to fetch a price tag of $250,000 or more. Some are even millions of dollars in value.
Years ago, I used to be fascinated by the style, speed, and price tag of cars. More specifically, American muscle cars, which took up most of a top 20 list. It wasn't until watching James Bond in Casino Royale that the number one car became the Aston Martin DBS V12. It was captivating as it raced along an isolated road, nearly running over a Bond damsel tied up and placed in the middle of that road. The car was, inevitably, destroyed as a result of the near miss.
At first it seemed to be a great tragedy when that scene concluded and the car was nothing more than a distorted piece of engineering. I couldn't believe that I was feeling remorse for all that torn metal and shattered glass, something that took a person from point A to point B, safely and elegantly. My own reaction, while surprising yet not completely unexpected, got me thinking about the fascination many of us have for expensive or opulent possessions.
That an incredible amount of value seems to be placed on something we own or even drive. Whether it's the popular VW Beetle or the Mercedes Benz, our mode of transportation is no longer an experience, it has become a relationship. With cute pet names and careful detail put into its appearance and cleanliness, it seems our vehicles have taken on a greater significance.
Back in the day, there were times when I would assign a gender to my car and, admittedly, found myself carrying on a conversation with the inanimate object. Remembering those kinds of things make me chuckle now. How it was nothing to spend an entire day washing, drying, vacuuming, and dusting the vehicle. Taking great care to clean every inch and being proud of a job well done. Only to have it get dirty a couple days later due to inclement weather or muddy/wet shoes.
Today, with a change in perspective and seeing the world in the mess that it is, a lot of material things that once held great value and pride for me have, well, fallen away. It now perplexes and saddens me that many objects of apparent wealth hold a higher status than the emotional, mental, and spiritual wealth of a human being.
That there are actual places in the world where a human life can be and is exchanged for a loaf of bread, bottle of alcohol, or bag of drugs. That the desperation to feed an addiction or a family overtakes an individual so much to cause them to use humans as currency...as bartering tools. I remember, myself, feeling the desperation to feed my alcohol addiction by selling my own possessions. How the value of that object no longer mattered. Only the satisfaction of my need, did.
I was willing to do whatever it took, at the time, to get that 'high' so that the pain that was haunting me would be silenced, if only for a little while. The little while was far more valuable to have than the sentimentality of the material object that was sold to get the small piece of time. The same could be said for my sexual addiction, except the thing I was selling to get that 'high', was a piece of my soul.
A piece of the soul is not easy to get back once it's gone. There is only one way to feel whole after years of giving away something that was always meant to be sacred. That one way being a choice to accept Christ into my heart and life. That is where the wholeness started. That is where the value of my life was restored to priceless.
It was never about the material or shallow things that really made the difference. It was never about putting all of life's value into a trinket, vehicle, or hope chest filled with memories. It was all about feeling worthwhile and valuable.
As many times as the fulfillment of a high went up, it never satisfied the drop of this human currency. The more this heart and soul was abused, the more the value of this unknown gem dropped and the more it didn't matter that there was any value on the inside.
At the time of Jesus, He never looked for the material to bring any value to others. He always looked at the person, perceiving something beyond the superficial ways in which that person lived. He could always get to the root of the individual, drawing out awe and disbelief from each person He came in contact with.
He had a way of disproving the currencies of His time and placing immeasurable wealth on every man, woman, and child that He encountered. He was never interested in what they could offer Him or how much money they had for bribery. He was interested in the currency of the soul. What value lay there? He knew the answer because He was the answer.
While the coin on which Caesar's face was stamped, held a certain value to the people of that day, it never accounted for the person who had worked for that coin. Jesus saw beyond all the things that the people were placing value on, right into the person themselves.
As we look at the unsteady trends of the stock market and exchange and see the value of numerous currencies rise and fall from moment to moment, a human life will never change in value. It is set in stone even though much of the world goes to great lengths to squash human worth by pandering individuals out via human trafficking and prostitution...much of it underground and unseen. Along with many other ways a human life is devalued nowadays.
We all know these things exist. Depending on the strength of your stomach, the queasiness that comes as a direct result of knowing these things exist, will vary from person to person. I believe it's time to place great value on every life. Not only that, I believe we have a responsibility to speak value in some way to each person we encounter.
That the exotic engineering we see would be in our words as much as our actions to one another. There is a great deal of uncertainty within the world we live. May each of us take on an air of intentionality to say or do something to build the worth of another person everyday.
Encouragement for the week:
In these days of brutality, violence, and shaming, is it worthwhile to be a person of change? To engineer something good within ourselves even though it may be a small thing and have that small thing take shape as a word or gesture to feed into someone else's value?
If you take a twenty dollar bill then crinkle it, step on it, and then spit on it, it never loses its value. A human, which may feel like that twenty dollar bill, will never lose its value no matter what he or she will go through.
Though it's hard to see value in yourself because of what's happened in your life...you are valuable beyond any material possession that exists in the world. If you find that hard to believe, I understand. I used to feel the same way but what I'm telling you is true. You are priceless.
If you are a Christian, I pray you know that what you hold doesn't dictate your value. It's who holds you who dictates that. Lean into Jesus and allow Him to tell and show you your value.
If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find someone who will tell you who you really are and what your value truly is.