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Possessions or Relationships?
Brett Anderson ©2005

To set up the context for what I am going to share, there is a guy called Vellie who runs a gym in the nearby township of Kayamandi. He asked me a long time ago if I would come and speak to the guys who work at his gym and then through various circumstances he was busy or I was busy and it just didn't happen for a while. But about two weeks ago I saw him in church and we organised for me to go speak there. His guys are entering a weightlifting competition in a few weeks time and so he wanted me to come and do a motivational talk to inspire them.

THE ONE ABOUT THE PAIN

So I arrive last Monday at 6pm like he tells me (after getting a little bit lost in Kayamandi - hey, crazy white guy in a township, I don't think anyone noticed.) and walk inside his gym which is actually just someone's bedroom with a bunch of weights and stuff in it. So not a big place and about 6 or 7 other guys are there ready for the session. So I ask him when I'm going to speak and he says, "We will work out til about 8 and then you can talk and pray for the guys."

So I'm thinking, "Great! I've got to watch these guys gym for two hours. Nice one."

But no such luck. Within two minutes Vellie has passed me a weight and I'm 'working out' along with the guys. I have to put 'working out' in the little inverted comma fingers because what I was doing and what the other guys was doing was definitely not the same. They would pile on the weights when Vellie and the other guys did the benchpressing and then pretty much take most or all of them off when I went (and still need to help me lift the pole...Hey! I don't do much weight work at the gym!)

So it was quite funny and I think I provided general comic relief for most of the session. They worked me for pretty much two hours straight and by Thursday when I still couldn't hold my laptop bag in my right hand cos of the pain in my right arm I knew that I had done some work.

At one point Vellie pulled out the gym ball (pilates ball I think - huge rubber thing you use for stuff) and got onto it with his arms out and was balancing on it. Then he gets off and tells me to try but in such a way I know they are all expecting me to suck at it, but I have pretty good balance so I'm like 'Bring it on!' I get on the ball and within a second or two I am balancing quite easily and so natural brett tendency kicks in and I start doing dance moves and rapper motions and showing off a bit. I could see they were quite impressed and the one township dude came across and gave me the fist of 'Respek.'

Then they returned me to the weights so I go back to looking really pathetic. It was great. I even made it to my normal gym the next day. (And I intend to go inside it again some day soon!)

THE LESSON

So this is the thing.When I arrived I came straight from the internet cafe where I had been emailing and I had my laptop and another bag with me in the back seat of my car. So when we arrive at the place I asked Vellie whether I should bring the stuff inside or leave it in the car (meaning lock it in the boot/trunk out of sight) and he says to me I should just leave it where it is as it will be safe. He did add that it's outside the townships where stuff gets stolen and brought to the townships but stuff inside is safe and that it's with him so no-one will steal it.

And it was one of those mini-second dilemmas that actually works itself out as a three hour conversation in your head or seems to anyways. Because basically Vellie was telling me to leave my R13 000 wireless Dell laptop on the back seat of my car in full view in the middle of a township and what seemed like sense to him seemed a bit less so to me. But I really felt it was a 'moment of truth' time - I could trust him and back the relationship (and i guess the possibility that he was wrong and my computer and other stuff would be redistributed to other people around Kayamandi) or I could back my computer and bring it into the house or lock it into the boot, which would be showing a lack of trust for this guy who had pretty much given me his word.

I chose relationship. So I left my computer in the back seat of the car, refrained from the need to go and check up on it or stare anxiously at the window or anything. In fact I pretty soon forgot about it and just enjoyed (in between regular bouts of pain) the weight session.

THE POINT

You know this is something I'm not sure people are going to get something from. It was very significant for me and the moment I got home I just knew this was something I needed to share in a thort. On some level I think it was a test on the idolatry in my life because I guess possessionwise my computer is my most important possession. It contains all my email correspondence (the 50 or so emails I still owe people and am trying to get to as fast as I can) and a lot of church work and planning for next year and of course all my funny computer clips and collection of Dilbert cartoons.

In fact that reminds me of this other story which relates: a few years ago I was on this October Leadership training camp for the leaders of the Christian groups in schools and I picked up one of the worship team dude's guitars and put it on and was playing it when suddenly the strap unhooked on the one side and before I could stop it the end went down and hit the floor quite hard (well hard enough to knock a chip out of the guitar - apparently not the coolest thing you can do to someone's instrument?) - Wow! Not the hugest piece of guitar flying off but a piece is a piece and not something unnoticeable at all.

Anyways I found out that it belonged to my buddy Rob and so, stressing big time, I went and explained what had happened and he was like 'no problem man, it's just a thing' or something like that. Wow! that really blew me away!

To be honest (and not just cos I'm me) it was the right response. The guitar was broken and him getting all upset and stressing and hating me and going off would not change that fact at all. Yes, I could sort it out and fix the guitar (which reminds me I think I still owe Rob a fixed guitar - whoops - aw well, I indirectly set him up with the girl he's about to marry so we'll call it quits!) and make it right, but him getting all stressed and coming down on me would have not made any difference at all.

The bottom line is that Rob chose relationship over possession. He totally uplifted and encouraged and preserved my dignity when the incident could have been used to break me down and make me feel stupid and so on.

LAST CONCLUSIONARY FINAL POINT

I've said this before but God's currency in the Kingdom of Heaven really seems to be only two things: God and people. Those are the things that are important to God and we would do well to learn that and make them important in our lives above all else.

For me the likeliest thing to be an idol in my life would be my computer - what is it for you? Your car? Your house? Your musical instrument?

It is never worth putting a thing before a person. Choose relationship!

Some of us need to go before God and confess that there are things in our life that we give way too much concern/care to and ask Him to replace that with love for Him and people. I am not talking about treating the possessions we have badly or not looking after them and treating them with care and stuff, but about loosening the hold they have over us.

Enjoy it while you have it and be grateful to God for all the amazing stuff you do have (maybe some of us need to be redistributing our own stuff because we have way too much of it anyways, but that is probly another thort!) but if anything happens to it, then adopt a 'so what?' attitude rather than an 'it's the end of the world as we know it' depression. Why let your stuff have that kind of a hold over you?

In the words of B.A. Baracus from the A-Team (old 80's programme) "I pity the fool!"