200 Pounds of Trash
by Alan Smith
Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary family in China who was forced to leave the country sometime after the communists took over.
One day a band of soldiers knocked on the door and told this missionary, his wife, and children that they had two hours to pack up before these troops would escort them to the train station. They would be permitted to take with them only two hundred pounds of stuff.
Thus began two hours of family wrangling and bickering — what should they take? What about this vase? It’s a family heirloom, so we’ve got to take the vase. Well, maybe so, but this typewriter is brand new and we’re not about to leave that behind. What about some books? Got to take a few of them along. On and on it went, putting stuff on the bathroom scale and taking it off until finally, they had a pile of possessions that totaled two hundred pounds on the dot.
At the appointed hour, the soldiers returned. “Are you ready?” they asked.
“Did you weigh your stuff?”
“Yes, we did.”
“Two hundred pounds?”
“Yes, two hundred pounds on the dot.”
“Did you weigh the kids?”
“Um, . . . no.”
“Weigh the kids!”
And in an instant the vase, the typewriter, and the books all became trash. Trash! None of it meant anything compared to the surpassing value of the children.
If only it were that easy for us. If we had to make a physical choice, the choice would be easy. What’s worth more — your child or a computer? If you could only take one with you, which would it be?
That’s easy; it’s a no-brainer. But seldom does the choice come wrapped in such easy-to-open paper.
Too often, it sounds more like this: What’s more important — spending time with your family or staying at work a couple of extra hours to get caught up? “Don’t ask me to make that choice! My family is important to me. It’s just that I really need to get this done!
After all, I’m only doing it to provide for them.” Still, there are times when the question won’t go away: Which is more important?
And there are times when we are forced to admit that we’ve been gathering hundreds of pounds of “trash” while neglecting that which is of greatest importance.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
But God bless each one of you with the wisdom to choose that which is of greatest value.