Archaeologists in Denmark had had made amazing discoveries. In the middle of bogs and lakes, they were finding all kinds of ancient artifacts – precious jewels, swords, and even the hulls of finely crafted warships. Many of them belonged to the fourth century A.D., several hundred years before the Vikings went on their rampages throughout Europe and ventured into the New World.
The amazing thing, however, is how they got there. These valuables were not lost, but thrown away. You see, in those days these people believed that powerful spirits lived in lakes, gods who controlled their lives. If they won a victory in battle, they would not ‘take the spoil,’ but would toss it all into the lake as an offering to the gods who lived there. It was all a kind of insurance policy. Toss in these valuables, and that respect earns you the good favor of the unseen water-dwellers. To pocket the goods just might seal your doom.
What a terrific waste, you might say! If, in fact, one of these ancient swords was worth, say, a new Camry in the modern day, then just imagine the power of that lie. Nothing demanded these costly jewels. Nothing was appeased by the enemies’ swords. And in return for these riches, nothing promised them protection from the next bloody raid.
We might laugh at such nonsense. And yet with all our education, degrees, careers, houses, cars, cell phones, and a thousand other trinkets of modern convenience, what is it all for? We’ve got to toss them away as we leave this life. Our earthly possessions will have to be left elsewhere for some other giddy archaeologist to dig up a thousand years later. So what is it all for? All for nothing?
And yet others just might excuse these primitive folk with a polite, ‘Well, if it worked for them, it was worth it.’ We live in a time when everything is relative. Who is to look down on these ancient people for their beliefs? Everyone is entitled to his own opinions.
But did it really ‘work’ for them? Let’s not kid ourselves. These poor people wasted their hard-earned riches. And if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves, we are fast approaching the brink the next world only to toss – not just our goods – but our very lives into the abyss.
Beyond nothing, however, there is something. There is Someone. He has made you, given you “life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). But He does not ‘work for you,’ as those Danish lake gods worked for those who bought their protection. That’s the difference. With God, it is all a free gift. And He who has given you everything requires nothing short of your life. It is His!
So we don’t ask if God works for you; but do you work for God? “The LORD hath made all things for himself” (Prov. 16:4). Yes, to give yourself up to God is to lose everything.
But that loss is not a waste. It is a gain. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Mat. 16:25). Cast it all into the hands of God.