I just returned from attending my wife’s family reunion. It was a long drive, and often we stopped for gas at small towns that were little more than wide spots in the road. Every time I filled the tank, I surveyed my surroundings, wondering what kind of people lived in that community. I learned I could find the answer to my question by studying the kind of magazines sold on the store racks. In rural towns, every magazine has to do with hunting or monster trucks. Magazine titles like Field and Stream or Guns and Ammo abound on the shelves. In the city, periodicals like Golf Digest or Yachting Magazine are the most popular. Throughout the Midwest, where I was raised, the magazine racks are filled with This Old House, Better Homes and Gardens and Sports Illustrated. Even though I travel far and wide, I rarely find my favorite type of magazine. That’s the kind that is all about . . . stuff.

Whenever I visit stores like Barnes & Noble or Magazines R Us, I keep my eyes open for those magazines about . . . stuff. (Yes, I admit it. I am one of those guys who stands around the magazine rack reading, but is too cheap to make a purchase. The stores make up the difference in the books I buy, so I do not feel too bad about reading their magazines every now and then.)

A while back, I ran across one of those magazines that listed all the best, latest and newest . . . stuff. This issue contained in-depth coverage of the “Top 100” examples of stuff through the years. I enjoy reading about all the neat stuff, unusual stuff, expensive stuff, odd stuff, one-of-kind stuff and stuff that you supposedly cannot live without. Spread throughout the pages of magazines like this is stuff that will make your life easier, stuff that will keep you organized and stuff that has been designed to help you relax. They have stuff that cleans the air and stuff that makes the air smell better, stuff that runs on batteries and stuff that recharges batteries and accessory stuff that you can use with your old stuff. There is an overwhelming abundance of stuff-enough to fill the pages of many magazines. If I bought every piece of stuff that promised to save me time, for example, I would need some more stuff to keep me occupied during all the time I have left over. Still, whenever I spend time poring over these magazines, this question always comes to mind: how much of this stuff does a person actually need?

I have gotten to the point where I don’t even want any more stuff. All of my life, I have worked to gain . . . stuff. From childhood on, all I wanted was . . . stuff. For Christmas, I got . . . stuff. For birthdays, I got . . . stuff. Eventually, I collected so much stuff that I had to by a house to put my stuff in. When your house “runneth over” with stuff, you build a shed where you can put your stuff. Then when your shed “runneth over,” you buy a bigger house, and the cycle just repeats it self. When you die, your family either fights over your stuff or sells it in a garage sale for a nickel. That’s when the life cycle of stuff begins again.

Jesus tells us that we should not focus on . . . stuff. In fact, if you focus on Him, your stuff will take its proper place. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”(Matthew 6:33) What things was Jesus talking about? Of course, he meant . . . stuff! When we seek Him first, He will give our families all the stuff we need to be content. May we teach our children not to gain stuff but to gain . . . Him. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a visit to the landfill to get rid of some . . . stuff!

Dear Father, I must confess that sometimes I allow my stuff to get in the way of my relationship with You and with my family. I also know that my children are observers of life. Today, please enable me to rearrange and reprioritize all of my stuff. May my children not only hear from my lips that Jesus is first. May they also see in my life that I place my relationship with Him above anything else, even . . . stuff. Amen.