“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (Ps 119:37 NIV)
Fort William Henry. It looked so strong, so unbreakable, so meant to protect the Permaquid region and survive for eternity.
But then that’s also what they thought when they built the former fort, Fort Charles, and it had been destroyed by a joint coalition between the French and the Indians, just a few years earlier …
But this new fort was different. It had taken two thirds of the budget of the colony of Massachusetts to build. It would most certainly last!
However when attacked four years later by the same culprits, it was discovered that this seemingly strong fort had an Achilles’ heel. The mortar used to build the strong stone walls was of poor quality (Even in those days they took shortcuts!) And it could not withstand the bomb attacks. It also didn’t help that the garrisons’ water supply lay outside the fort. A mere oversight, perhaps, but between the two, it cost them their fort. Once again the English had to abandon Permaquid.
One thing about the British, they don’t get discouraged easily! In 1729 they built yet another fort to protect the Permaquid area. They called it Fort Frederick, and this one lasted until 1769, when the fort was deemed useless, due to the construction of Fort Pownall further east of Permaquid, and to the fall of Quebec. Abandoned, Fort Frederick fell into disarray, and was eventually torn down in 1775 by the local inhabitants. Their reason? Being on the eve of the commencement of the Revolutionary War in the United States, they wanted to discourage the British from ever occupying it again!
We would never have discovered these ruins if we hadn’t taken a little detour. It was mentioned nowhere in the tourist guides or on the Internet. What seemed so important to the past wasn’t deemed really worthwhile after all!
As I was pondering this, I had to ask myself: How much time do we waste on “worthless” pursuits? Should our to-do lists really be our priority in life? Do we even remember what we accomplished two days ago? We rush back and forth at dizzying speeds, but what do we have left to commemorate it all when the rush is over and we try to survive our retirement years on meager provisions?
And what about our worship? Is it exempt from worthless priorities?
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:26-27 NIV)
Just attending church won’t cut it. Just giving our tithes and offerings won’t get us to the mark. Self-centered religion is worthless when the needs of God’s children are being ignored. How many of the things we hold so dearly are not everlasting! “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matt 23:23 NIV)
Is our service at work worthwhile to others? If we are just working for the money, it won’t be: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…”( Col 3:23 NIV)
What about love? Do we love our spouses the way Jesus tells us to? Do we put his or her needs first? And what about our kids? Do we even try to understand them?
It all comes down to this: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:17 NIV)
The same is true with our worship towards God. If it is self-seeking, it’s worthless. If it is a means to reach heaven, we’ve missed the mark.
So many of the things we do, think or admire are truly worthless! So many of these things won’t make it to eternity! What are we truly holding on to? Is there anything in the bunch that is worthy of eternity? Which will be lasting? Which will evaporate to nothingness?
One thing is certain, love is the foundation to eternity. This one is truly worthy of our full attention! “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
Even the beautiful sand castles I used to build with my children have disappeared into nothingness, but the time spent with my kids while engaged in this activity will linger in my memories forever!
(To access the entire “Holding On” devotional series, please click here.)