“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
–1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
It was 9:45 AM in Los Angeles when a memo came across my desk. Pawn shop owners reported that people were collecting weird things, which led to questionable practices.
I wrote down what I thought were the top 5 collectibles, and decided to check out each shop. I didn’t want to stop there, though. I wanted to encourage community involvement. In short, I wanted to know how citizens would rate these collectibles. So without knowing anything further, I grabbed a thermos of coffee and headed out.
Number 1 was toenail clippings–and not just a few. Would you believe 30,000? This collection is allegedly being kept for medical research. The question is, what kind of research is this?
Have you ever been flying and become airsick, but didn’t have a sickness bag? Problem solved! You might borrow one from our second collector, who has so many barf bags that I’m sure he would never notice you took one.
Number 3 was a huge gumball made of already-been-chewed nicotine gum. Kind of makes me glad I don’t like gum.
Number 4 was belly button fuzz. The collector says it’s his own. Why am I not impressed?
Number 5 was locks of famous people’s hair. I understand this man’s collection includes the spare hairs of everyone from presidents to movie stars. So guys, if any of you are going bald, this might just be the solution you’ve been looking for.
According to Wikipedia, there is a discipline called the psychology of collecting. Another article goes more in-depth on this subject, and the writer offers what she considers a plausible explanation for how our ancestors coped with the difficulties they supposedly faced.
Picture what the writer is saying in this way. Fred Flintstone is collecting berries for dinner, but food is scarce, especially with Dino around. So poor Fred begins to feel insecure, and he wonders what he should do.
This writer’s response? Of course, Fred’s primordial instincts would kick in and urge him to collect more than what he needs, for reasons of self-preservation.
But did our desire to collect stuff really come from the needs which Fred confronted billions of years ago? I don’t think so.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t question her conclusions right off the bat, but further research only accentuated these conclusions. I felt that other websites appeared to contradict this author, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Having said that, however, here are two things I discovered during my own further research.
I found two more interesting websites. The first was an Internet course on learning how to collect things, and that began my search for truth in this neglected area. But in my quest, I was greatly disturbed by further information, and I wanted to quit.
I couldn’t call any fellow under-cover agents in, because the assignment was too dangerous. For the good of humanity, I had to continue, so I pressed on. Wringing my hands in desperation, I discovered–you guessed it–another horrifying website. It told people what kind of stuff to collect, just in case they didn’t have ideas already.
After careful consideration, my nose led me to my first question: If collecting fulfills some kind of innate need for safety which I recieved from my forefathers, then why do I need to learn how to collect, or what to collect for that matter?
I pondered this in my office for a long time, but I knew the answer would require further investigation. So I ran with the assumption that man had fine-tuned an instinct to collect over millions of years, in order to survive. But if that is the case, I surmised, why is this person saying that collecting is a learned skill?
The collection conclusion I reached was quite different. After a thorough examination of the facts, I surmised that we accumulate things simply because we can. But I knew there was one more step I had to take in order to close this case successfully, and I couldn’t risk being followed. So I got in my unmarked car and headed out to Jimmy’s Pawn Shop.
According to the so-called specialists in the field, collecting can be either positive or negative. Jimmy wasn’t busy, so he explained this fact a bit more.
“Positive examples,” he told me, “might include collecting for pleasure, or looking for memorabilia that you enjoy. Negative examples might be either the pack-rat who hordes everything, or any collecting which fosters bitterness.”
I was still skeptical, but I had to admit that what he said made sense, so I reflected on this further.
Then, while driving home, I remembered something. In the New Testament, it said that followers of Jesus are urged to be positive collectors. I turned that over in my mind, and wondered exactly what that meant.
Then it came to me. In the Bible, we are told to hide God’s Word in our hearts.
“Not only that,” a little voice seemed to say. “You are also supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you.”
“Unfortunately,” I thought, “when it comes to collecting, I’m better on the negative side of the ledger than the positive side.”
When was the last time I had opened my Bible, and really let God speak to me? I knew I could correct this, but the positive collection of God’s Word required a change in my lifestyle.
I knew I had to set aside time for God, and I became determined to do this through Christ. But I didn’t want to see this new commitment as some kind of duty. So, opening my heart right there on the freeway, I prayed aloud.
“Dear Lord, please give me a hunger for what You have to say. I want to study Your Word, but I can’t do that without Your help. When I don’t understand something, help me to go on, and help me trust that You will reveal it as I search Your Word. Help me to be a wisdom collector. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.