Having Everything

      Comments Off on Having Everything

“You can’t have everything,” says deadpan comic Steven Wright.  “Where would you put it?”

The hunger to somehow have it all is nevertheless a central human fixation.  And we are endlessly fascinated with those who seem to have gotten pretty close.

Take the Rothschild family.  Over the past 250 years the descendants of Mayer Rothschild of Germany accumulated the modern equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars.  The five original Rothschild sons set up shop in five European gateway cities – Vienna, London, Paris, Naples, and Frankfurt – and for a time almost literally ruled the financial world. 

Having come from modest roots, the Rothschilds didn’t always seem to know what to do with their newly obtained phenomenal wealth. 

The Parisian branch of the family, for instance, lived on more than 10,000 acres.  A team of 50 gardeners was kept busy pulling weeds and pruning trees.

The family castle boasted 30 guest rooms, each of which had a private bath and fireplace.  Those were significant luxuries in the 1800s. 

More than 100 servants carried out household duties.  Several of them were retained to perform just one task.  One was employed because the family appreciated the way he poured dressing on the salads.  Another worked only on Monday.  His job was winding the castle clocks. 

Still another servant, who was nicknamed the Grand Admiral, rowed a boat around a pond during meals so those in the dining room would have something interesting to look at.

The family was sensitive to cooking odors, so the kitchen was built underground several hundred feet from the castle.  Meals were delivered via tunnel by a small train with heating lamps.

The Rothschilds imported an English woman who was skilled at baking traditional breads and muffins.  But no one ever sampled her creations, because they were considered too fattening.

And you thought you were being eccentric by fantasizing how many new pairs of shoes you might buy when you finally win the Lottery.

The world’s wealthiest family didn’t really have it all, even though they gave it a pretty good shot.  The irony is that what they accumulated in their bank accounts turned out to be worth so little.

I enjoy collecting paper money from other countries.  I have a drawer full of Romanian lei, Russian rubles, and old Greek drachmas.  They’re multi-colored, fun to look at, and completely worthless in the American marketplace. 

You can visit another country and stuff your wallet with its legal tender.  But as soon as you land in New York City those pieces of paper can’t buy a pack of gum.

The world’s religions all agree that our ultimate destination is “another country” of one sort or another.  Only a fool would spend his life trying to hold on to the currency of this world, which in the next world will be powerless to buy anything.

So what is the currency of heaven?  The Bible declares it to be character – specifically, the character of Jesus – a reality we can receive only as a gift. 

Christ’s character becomes ours not through playing the Spiritual Lottery, or keeping religious rules, but by sustaining a grace-based relationship with him in the here and now.

In the end, therefore, it’s not what you have, but who has you.

We can’t have everything. 

But the amazing news is that we can have everything that matters.