But this also explains the burn barrel. We keep two receptacles in the house—one for wet garbage and one for burnable trash. The more we can burn, the less often we have to cart garbage cans down the highway. We put everything we possibly can in that box of trash—junk mail, out-of-date documents, bills, and receipts, cardboard boxes, empty plastic containers and lids, plastic bottles and bags, old rags, irreparable clothes—everything that will burn, or melt and then burn. Don’t talk to me about recycling. We recycle in several other ways, and this practice saves gas.
But let me ask you this. Would you ever put anything important in a burn barrel? Of course not. Do you know what God thinks of this world? He has his own burn barrel, and this world is what He plans to throw in it.
We need to remember that. Too often we become enamored of the very things God will ultimately destroy. Some of our favorite things in life are sitting in God’s burn barrel. Even when we think we have our priorities straight, we often do not.
I remember telling my little boys that one day we would take a month long camping trip out west. We would show them all those beautiful national parks they had only heard about. They could look across the Grand Canyon, watch Old Faithful erupt, and stand in a place where the mountains rose peak after peak after peak with no signs of modern man—no power lines, no sounds of traffic, not even a tangled skein of contrail in the perfect blue sky--a place where a thousand years before some native had stood and enjoyed the same view. It never happened. We never had the money or the time. They are grown now and can understand the pressures of life, making a living, paying the bills, meeting one’s responsibilities to others, but I have always felt bad about missing that trip. We managed one or two other things while they were still at home, but never that one.
But remember this, no matter how good a plan it was, how good the values we were trying to instill with an appreciation of God as the Creator of all that majestic beauty, God Himself doesn’t think that much of it. It’s temporary. He plans to destroy it all. The things God meant for me to teach those boys were things I could teach any time, any place, no matter how much money we did or didn’t have.
The Bible is full of people who did not have the right priorities—Esau for one, who sold a birthright for one meal. The Hebrew writer calls him “profane” (Heb 12:16). Paul talks about having a “mind of the spirit” rather than a “mind of the flesh” (Rom 8:4). And why? Because Jesus’ kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36). It is “not meat and drink” (Rom 14:17). So many things we allow ourselves to become upset about simply do not matter. Traffic jams? Noisy neighbors? Pet peeves? Even the trials of life—precisely because it is this life we are becoming distracted with.
For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is perdition, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Phil 3:18-20. Yes, Paul says that when I let things of this life upset me to the point of distraction that my “god is my belly.” I am not supposed to be minding those earthly things.
So today, think about God’s burn barrel. He has a place for the things He plans to destroy, just like I do, one that gets too full too fast. God’s burn barrel holds things like wealth, possessions, awards, careers, opinions, irritations, Jimmy Choo shoes, stock portfolios, time shares on the beach, cabins in the mountains, camping trips out west—even this earthly tabernacle that so many try to keep looking young. They all go in the barrel at the end of the Day. And God will light the fire Himself.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed…Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace, 2Pet 3:10-14.