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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

“Dude, It’s Only Stuff”

January 29th, 2004

Walking across the parking lot to my truck, I looked up at the blue sky and thought how glad I am to live where I’m not shoveling snow the day before New Year’s Eve.

Unlocking the door on my Mazda and getting in the way I’ve done thousands of times, I stopped half way. The feeling didn’t hit me at first. Then it did. Like a size-16 Tony Lama boot kick in the gut.

Shattered glass covered the seat and floorboard. Someone had, in broad daylight, smashed out the back windshield of my truck and stolen my stereo. The console had been cracked open with a pry bar, the wires clipped. They took the loose change in the ashtray and, for some curious reason, stole the bottle of hand sanitizer that was sitting on the seat.

I’d like to say I uttered something spiritual at that moment. Something that reflected a Christian maturity beyond my years. But I didn’t.

I cussed.

Then I began to process my thoughts.

Why did this happen? Why did it happen to me? I feel violated. My personal space has been invaded. Someone vandalized my truck and stole my stereo. Now my hand is bleeding because I cut it on the broken glass from my window that they smashed in my truck. Why would anyone do this? I’m really, really angry.

Maybe the next stereo I put in could have some kind of device that would blow up in their face if they tried to steal it. Nothing fatal. Just something that would leave them stunned and staggering blindly around the parking lot until the police came to take them away. Hey, they would deserve it, right?

Whoever did it was a small-timer, says Obed, my police officer friend. “Big-timers wouldn’t have stopped at the stereo. They would have stolen your truck.” Somehow that doesn’t make me feel better. The police didn’t help, either. “I know you won’t want to hear this, but it happens all the time here. We’ll take your information and give you a case number, but honestly, there’s nothing we can do.”

The insurance company said there was something they could do. After, of course, I paid my $250 deductible. Now I was wishing for some of that sub-zero Iowa weather. Grandpa used to tell me cold winters kept out the snakes and the riffraff, both of which abound in Phoenix.

With no radio to listen to, there was plenty of time to think on the way home. I’d processed some thoughts. Now it was time to process my theology. Did God understand me cussing first and thinking after? Did He understand my anger? And we’re supposed to give thanks in all situations. What was there to give thanks for? However mad I was, I’m sure other people in the valley had worse things happen to them today. And Obed was right. They didn’t steal my truck. I had to admit that was a good reason to be thankful.

Somewhere between Rural and McClintock on the eastbound 60 it occurred to me that I was using the word “my” a lot. My window. My stereo. My loose change in the ash tray. My truck.

My, my, my.

I stopped at Fry’s on the way home to pick up something for dinner. The checkout clerk asked if I found everything ok and was there anything else he could do for me. “Not unless you can find the person who smashed out my window and stole the stereo out of my truck.”

The guy behind me in line looked like a lost surfer in search of a beach. He set his groceries on the conveyor and said, “Dude! That really sucks. But ya gotta remember, it’s only stuff, man. It’s only material stuff.”

The only thing missing was a voice from heaven saying, “Thus ends God’s lesson for today.” God used faded sweatshirt flip-flop guy to school me in theology. It’s only stuff. What’s more, it’s not my stuff. It’s God’s stuff. In the end, stuff either wears out, gets stolen, or burns up. It’s only stuff. What matters is what we store up in heaven. That’s what lasts.

On the last mile home I thought about the person or persons who damaged my, uh, God’s truck. How could anything good come from this? Maybe they steal the stereo but don’t sell it. Maybe they keep it and put it in their own car. And maybe sometime when they’re listening to it the tuner breaks and sticks on one station. A Christian station. And maybe after they cuss and get mad about the stereo not working they turn it off.

But they get tired of not having any tunes so they turn it on and they hear something that sparks in their heart and reminds them of their need for God and maybe, just maybe, they get saved.

Ok, probably not. It’s just a fantasy to soothe my anger. But stranger things have happened. Like God loving a broken person like me enough to send His only Son to die that I might have life.

In everyone’s book but God’s, that was a real long shot.

Anyway, it was something to think about again last Saturday when I cussed again. This time a bullet hole in the driver’s window on my truck. Shattered.

Surfer dude wasn’t around this time, but his words linger. “Dude, ya gotta remember, it’s only stuff, man. It’s only material stuff.”

True.

And comprehensive glass coverage is definitely something to be thankful for.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
 – Matthew 6:19-21