What do paper plates and fine china have in common? What does charcoal and fine diamonds have in common? What does an expensive handkerchief and facial tissue have in common?
They are all disposable.
The newest piece of furniture in our house is my recliner. It’s truly my office chair. With high speed internet, good cell phone service, and a sleek laptop, my office goes with me wherever I go. So, more than any other place, my office ends up being the recliner in our den.
Today I sat down in that recliner to host an online Bible Study at 6:00 a.m. After that I started sorting through emails and writing answers. I checked my calendar of events for today and went through my “to do” list. I wrote, recorded, edited, and sent off 5 brief radio programs (1 minute each). I posted updates online that were meant for edification. And, I sat in on a video conference.
I did all of that with my feet up and with the back of my chair in the reclined position—except that I noticed that I was a little too comfortable. It was leaning back much further than normal. Finally I got up and walked behind the chair to check out the problem. I could see by comparing it to the one beside it (which is identical) that they didn’t look the same any more. So, pulling up the velcro flap, I peered under to discover that is was indeed broken. The 2 waferboard supports that hold up the back were both snapped and both had pulled away from the 2 x 2 supports. Under closer examination I could tell that the staples inserted to hold everything together were poorly placed and all detached.
So, I paused my spiritual work and got out some tools to repair the recliner. It only took a pair of pliers, some good screws, and a drill and shortly I had the thing back in good condition. It only took me about 30 minutes.
But it won’t last. I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic.
Even with my tendency (due to years of dumb mistakes and many broken things) to treat possessions with increasing care, I know that it’s just a matter of time before my nice chair gives up the ghost. Although I only weigh about 200 lb., supporting my weight getting up and down repeatedly every day will take its toll.
They don’t make things like they used to.
But then, I can break old things too. I’ve broken cast iron skillets, steel ratchets, and even my left arm. And my arm was built by God Himself, so I know there was no flaw in the manufacturing process. Everything breaks eventually. Everything wears out, weathers, falls apart, become useless or irrelevant, and is thrown away.
The very sun in the sky has an expiration date.
The universe is cooling. Some say it will take a trillion years to lose its energy, but still, that’s not eternal. Even the Energizer Bunny doesn’t keep going forever. Which means that every material thing is disposable. Even the body I inhabit will someday be recycled. Depending on how deep my body is buried, the same teeth that has been crushing vegetation for its nutrients will be surrounded by the roots of trees and grasses and will supply nutrients to those plants.
Once I heard a big brained thinker declare that if we could see a time lapse video of the existence of the globe, the seemingly immovable mountain ranges of the earth would resemble the waves of the ocean in their movement. I don’t doubt it. In fact, the Bible even tells us that someday the mountains will be shaken flat and the islands of the world will sink into the oceans.
This morning I was reading and discussing 2nd Peter 3:10-13, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.”
Notice the use of the word dissolved. Twice. There is absolutely no doubt that the universe will not be allowed to expire in a quiet death of coldness. No, it is surely going to burst into oblivion in 1 massive atomic explosion. But in a way, it doesn’t even matter. It’s like the old maxim, “Some say, ‘I would rather burn out than rust out.’ I disagree. Does it even matter? In both cases, you’re out.” We would like to think that we can find a way not burn out from overzealous waste nor rust out due to careful inactivity. But, it isn’t so. The end of all things is inevitable. That is, the end of all material things.
The material universe is entirely disposable. The curse of sin guaranteed it. It is the very nature of death. And, all of creation groans and travails in pain waiting for its own demise (Romans 8:22).
In the Scriptures, the Spirit warned us not to set our affections on the things of this world. Don’t nail those tent stakes in too deep. We won’t be here long. Invest in eternal things. Only spiritual things endure. Everything else is perishable. Everything else is disposable. Everything.