Something Borrowed

A while back my son and I switched cars for a few days. He needed a little bigger car for a longer trip and he dropped off his smaller, sportier model for me to use while he took my sedan. It began by him saying he needed to borrow my car but as soon as I got in his car it felt like I was the one doing the borrowing. He likes his car a lot and I found myself being extra careful with it as I negotiated through traffic for a few days. I was very much aware that the car did not belong to me and that I was responsible for it while I had it.

If something is mine I may think I can do with it whatever I want. It belongs to me and I can feel I deserve to handle it however I please. Since it is mine it really won’t affect anyone else but me. Paradoxically things that belong to me sometimes tend to get better treatment. My sense of ownership may result in me taking extra pride in how it looks or how long it lasts. Either way I feel it is mine and that I either deserve to use it however I want or that it will somehow be a reflection of myself and I should care for it accordingly. Ownership brings a fairly self-centered outlook.

Borrowing, on the other hand, forces us to care for something that doesn’t belong to us. We may feel pretty frightened about what may happen to something while it is in our care. We may get a little jealous that what we are borrowing is beyond our ability to own. We may develop an increased appreciation for whatever we are borrowing. Borrowing something reminds us that we are responsible and will be held accountable.

Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (BCP, page 827)

What actually belongs to me and what am I borrowing? Lately more and more of us are aware of the environment and that the land is not ours to do with however we please. As I look at creation it’s easy for me to recognize that I didn’t make the earth. Since it is so resilient it may be hard for me to connect my treatment of it with its ongoing existence but it’s hard to forget that God created the earth and all that is in it. Even the portion of the earth I have bought was here before me and will be here after me. I don’t really own it.

What do I own? My house, my cars, my possessions, my savings, my investments, my family, my own body and health? Those few days in my son’s car helped me remember that nothing really totally belongs to me. I am borrowing everything

Ultimately it all belongs to God. God came before all things and will be after all things fade away, true enough. But, more than that, God has created me with certain abilities that allow me to acquire things for a season. I have been given enough skills to be selected and to serve as rector of a relatively large and prominent church. As a result of what I am paid, I can afford a certain lifestyle, more than many and less than some. Does what I have purchased really belong to me? Do the skills I possess which lead to a certain size paycheck actually belong to me? All those skills came from somewhere. I may have worked hard to hone some skills but I didn’t create them in the first place. I was made with certain skills. I am borrowing my own skills from the God who made me.

Nothing really belongs to me. Yet I have been given so very much. Will I clamp down on it all and hoard it away fearing I don’t have enough to make it through life? Or will I live more lightly and with more appreciation? Will I give generously of what I have and trust that all I need will be provided?

When the Church asks us to give 10% of our financial resources, it is helping us prepare for that day when we will be held accountable for all we have done with what has been given to us. By making a joyful return to God, we realize at a deeper level that everything we have belongs to him and not to us. We are given much because we are loved much.

Nothing belongs to me. So how will I treat all this while it is entrusted to me? What account will I be able to give when that time comes?


Yours faithfully,

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.


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