No, it’s not a song by the B-52s, they only longed for a Love Shack, this vision is of a barn, no barns, full of love. And why not? If we are to fill up storage spaces with anything then why not with something that truly matters?
The parable of the man who receives an abundance from God (and rightly responds by deciding to eat, drink and be merry, by the way) and decides that it is a good idea to go out and rent another self storage unit or two is, if nothing else, a mirror for us to look into. A quick trip to Wikipedia was enough to confirm what I feared. Before the 1960s somehow we survived in America with self-storage units and by the end of 2009 we had the equivalent of three Manhattan Islands (2.35 billion square feet) under a roof available to store all the stuff that we somehow can’t find room nor use for in dwelling places! Seriously, if we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?
The problem that tripped up the man in the parable is that he decided to be concerned for things outside of his control, certainly not least of which is time. When we concern ourselves with any (let alone the many) possibility that we choose or fear may occur tomorrow or some other time in the future we enter into the realm of life-taking worry. Seriously, what good is it to put something into storage for some future occasion? Now instead of finding use or enjoyment out the item it has become a worry. Will it be safe from harm? Will it be safe from theft? If it is intended to gain value, what if it doesn’t? That is not to say that planning ahead for that time when we won’t be able to provide for ourselves because we can no longer be productive as we are today isn’t prudent, but if it creates worry in the present, it will take away time from the future…literally. Jesus asks the rhetorical question how much time any of us can add by worrying. The truth is that worry not only doesn’t lengthen our lives, it shortens it. That is why we are to learn from the very much not kosher ravens. I can just picture Jesus trying to teach his disciples about leaning on God’s abundance and giving up worthless worrying, looking about for a metaphor when he spied some ravens cavorting in the sky. “Ah, what a great example,” he thinks to himself. These animals that eat carrion would be despised as unclean by his audience so by pointing out that part of how God makes their lives easier is by giving them dead things to eat surely would help his disciples see that God looks out for even these lowly creatures, then by all means God will take care of their needs. But there is the rub, we all too often want so much more than what we need! The gap between the two is a deep chasm filled with life-sapping worry.
The painful truth is that we do not know what day our life will be taken from us. Today provides us with an important reminder as we recall that day twelve years ago that began like any other normal day but ended in horror and death for a couple of thousand people in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. Only those things that those souls saved in eternal storage survived that day. The memories of the happy times of their lives shared with loved ones was not taken away. The first identified victim that day was New York Fire Department Chaplain Mychal Judge. He died in the line of duty as he was offering care and comfort to the dead and dying in the World Trade Towers. Like so many other first responders that day, he did not hesitate to respond to the call to help. For he knew where his treasure was, and it was not here on earth. He also understood that love is something that is more than infinite, it is eternal. That is, love is outside of time. Not only does love never end (as the Apostle Paul eloquently told the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 13) but it has no beginning in time either. Love comes from God. In fact, God is love (and thus also love is God!) So we can trust that there is an endless supply and we can store up all the love we can without ever fearing running out of room in the Love Barns!