When we moved to Florida, we bought a “turn-key” home.
Now, for the uninitiated, that means that the home comes furnished. All the furniture in each of the rooms is provided, just the way the seller left it.
But “turnkey” means more than just furniture is provided. It means everything is provided. And by “everything”, I mean everything! The cabinets are full of dishes. The drawers are full of silverware. The sheets are on the beds. The pictures are still on the walls.
The only two things which are not provided are food in the refrigerator, and clothes in the closet! There were even towels and washcloths in the bathrooms!
But what that meant for us is that we had to down-size in more ways than just getting rid of furniture. It meant that we also had to go through ALL our possessions and determine what we had to get rid of, even before we ever thought about packing up and moving!
For me, that meant that I had to limit the number of books I would be bringing with me. That in and of itself was difficult.
When we moved to Hillsboro over 25 years ago, I had brought with me about 70 boxes of books. When I moved out of the church office 10 years ago, I packed almost 90 boxes of books.
By the time I had given away many of my treasured “tools of the trade”, I packed about 15 boxes of books to be moved with us to Florida. That was a real sacrifice for me.
But my bride made even more sacrifices of objects and possessions that were precious to her. Not only did we sell or give away almost all the furniture that we had owned in Ohio, but many of the sets and collections she had spent a lifetime collecting and treasuring were also sacrificed.
But there was one collection that she wanted to maintain and keep as long as absolutely possible. That was her collection of close to a hundred Longaberger baskets.
These baskets, made at the home factory in Dresden, Ohio, are treasured gifts which My wife has been collecting for almost all of our married life. Each one is hand-made and the finished product is quite valuable!
It has been several years since we have gone on a tour of the Longaberger plant, but at the time the tour was quite interesting. Walking on a catwalk above the actual production area, we watched the various stages of the manufacture of those baskets.
The catwalk extended for about a quarter of a mile, and we saw the process of how the maple strips are prepared, how the baskets are then individually woven, how they are then passed over to the staining area, and how they are dried and prepared for final delivery to the customer.
There are two aspects of this whole process that were quite fascinating for me. The first is that, at that time anyway, there was no basket made that had not previously been ordered and purchased. Every basket made had a plan for its destination.
In fact, with the exception of the one basket they made for sale in the company store (at the end of the tour), every basket was bound for an individual order. In other words, each one of those baskets we watched them make was specially manufactured for the person who purchased it. Quite unlike a mass-produced product that hopefully will find a home somewhere, each of these had a home before it is ever made!
The second thing I found fascinating is that each basket was autographed by its maker. If you look on the bottom of any of these baskets, you will find there the hand-written initials of the person who painstakingly assembled those strips of maple to form the beautiful handiwork.
Now obviously, those two fascinations are symbolic, for me at least, of greater and deeper spiritual truths.
First, each one of us is made according to a Master plan. We were “ordered” (as it were) before the foundation of the world.
And secondly, just like those baskets, each one of us is “hand-made.” Our Creator, our Designer, our Master Craftsman has molded us and shaped us into the person He wanted us to be.
We have His “initials” all over us! The Bible tells us we are made in His image and for His glory.
Knowing this should help each one of us to live life in a more positive and powerful way. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. His fingerprints are all over you. He wants you to know that He loves you and sent His Son to take your sin on Himself so that you can live forever.
He wants you to know that He has a plan for YOU! (Check out Jeremiah 29:11!)
Friends, you and I are so much more valuable than a Longaberger basket. And God wants you to know that you are valued. We are God’s treasured possessions which will NOT be disposed of in any down-sizing or replaced in a move to a “turn-key” heaven!
There is another truth that came out of my tour those years ago of the Longaberger plant: Just like those baskets, we are all “goods-in-process”. We are moving through life like a basket moves through the plant, hopefully growing more and more with each passing day, and becoming more like the finished product that God has in mind.
But unlike those baskets in that plant, we have a mind and a will of our own that can choose to go through with God’s plan or not. And since you are His valued treasure,
His desire for you is that you honor Him and live for Him. The choice is ours. God’s end-product is beautiful. What are you?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.