This is a great illustration and way to think about what you own and what gifts you have been given.
One day, while walking through the downtown, he sees in a store window the most beautiful, the largest, most magnificent pearl he has ever seen. Instantly he knows he must have it. So he enters the store and an old guy enters from the door to the rear of the showroom. The man addresses the storekeeper, "I want that pearl. How much is it?"
The storekeeper says, "How much you got?"
"Well, I have $300 in my pocket."
"Good, I'll take that. What else you got?"
"Well, I have a Chevy Suburban outside, low mileage, about 2 years old, paid off."
"Good, I'll take that too. What else you got?"
"Well, I have two CD's worth about $18,000."
"Good," says the storekeeper, "I'll take those too. What else you got?"
This goes on and on. The man gives away his house, his property, even his family. Until finally the storekeeper says, "Okay, here. The pearl is yours."
The man turns to leave the store. But as he is walking out the storekeeper stops him and says, "Hey, you know what ? that family of yours? I don't need a family. So I'm going to give them back to you. But remember, they are mine now, not yours. You must take good care of them. And that house in Connecticut, well, I don't need a house so you can have that back too. Although it does belong to me, I just want you to care for it. And as for the CD's and the stocks and the Suburban and even this $300, you can have it all back too. But remember, it is all mine. Take it. Use it wisely. Care for it for me."
So the man left with everything he had when he walked into the store plus the great pearl. But there was a big difference. He walked into the store owning everything he had. He walked out owning nothing. Instead, everything he had before was now a gift.
In sermon preached September 20, 1998
The Reverend Greg Rickel is Vicar, St. James' Episcopal Church, Austin, TX.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.