Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stuff in the Attic

Today, October 21, commemorates the birthday of Alfred Nobel, whom we know in regards to the Nobel Prizes that are awarded each year.  But few know how those prizes came to be established.  Alfred Nobel gained his great wealth through the invention of dynamite which was intended to be used for constructive purposes, but of course, had been used in other destructive ways as well.  When Alfred’s brother died, the newspapers mistakenly thought it was him, and so, Alfred read his own obituary. 

"Le marchand de la mort est mort ('The merchant of death is dead')," the newspaper proclaimed — and also, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday."

Alfred Nobel read the obituary about himself and was so upset that this was to be his legacy that he rewrote his will to establish a set of prizes celebrating humankind's greatest achievements. He wrote this final will about a year before he died and signed it at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. He left 94 percent of his assets to create and endow five Nobel Prizes: physics, chemistry, physiology or medical works, literature, and peace.

Ok, so how does this apply to me?

Many of you know that we (the nomadic Wells tribe) are moving again.  We sent out roots down in Memphis, but God engineered our goings again.  The new house in Chicago has no storage, and so, I am in the process of divesting our family of STUFF.  We have so far unloaded many boxes of unnecessary papers and other things that have ended up being moved from house to house.  My cry of “we might need it someday” doesn’t hold much weight anymore, particularly since all the girls have since left home.  I have taken a couple of carloads of things that are usable to various locations where they can be distributed.

I became very aware last night of pictures and other documents left behind by those who came before us, parents, grandparents, great grandparents and beyond.  There are pictures and family resemblances as far back as the late 1800s.  And I even came across my great grandmother’s Bible with her annotations scribbled in pencil.  What did these people leave behind?  A name, a photograph, a family anecdote?  Is that all?  Or something more lasting than what can be contained in a cardboard box?  A legacy.

I challenge you today…and myself… to think about these things.  Not in a morbid sense, nor one without hope, but by what will we be remembered someday?

“And this is the name by which he will be called:    “The LORD is our righteousness.”

                                                                                                                     Jeremiah 23.6

Press on!

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