“Modern Day Tulip Mania.”
That’s what I call it when we choose to obsess on the outward, attractive, temporal things in life over the eternal Word, leaving us spiritually bankrupt …
Tulip mania was an actual historical event in Holland during the 17th century. The tulip, (of all things) was a huge status symbol, especially among the rich and famous. Rare bulbs could sell for the price of a house! Lower class even mortgaged their homes to buy tulip gardens! Rumors have it, banks dedicated special vaults to hold valuable bulbs!
What were these people thinking?!
While some details are up for debate, I’m not making this up!
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall… ( 1 Peter 1:24)
Well, the flowers did in fact, fall. The valuable bulbs were infected with a virus altering their beauty. Naturally, the demand fell, along with their prices. Reportedly, creating so many bankruptcies the entire Dutch economy collapsed.
Can you imagine having to tell your children the news? I cringe thinking of the enormous guilt, and regret as they hang their head in shame, explaining destitution was a result of poor tulip investments. What could be recovered? What is lost?
You probably know by now this story is a little closer to home than Holland.
Truth be told, we’ve probably all had our run-in with tulip mania, haven’t we?
Consider the beautiful lush green grass we work so hard on each spring. It needs constant upkeep and cultivation, so it is with our physical bodies. Despite our biggest brightest signs to say in essence, “please not destroy everything I’ve worked so hard for!” Age and gravity do not seem to read well.
And when children are on the horizon -Forget it. Your landscape is as good as gone.
“I’m perfectly okay with aging – it’s my body that is protesting!”
Needless to say, our bodies are withering and fleeting because they were created to be temporary. Now, if I know it to be true that… beauty is fleeting, health is fleeting, mobility is fleeting, memory is fleeting, you name it – it’s probably fleeting, why do I invest so heavily in these things?
I forget all of these will fail me one day. I think they are as reliable as the chair I’m sitting in right now. Oh, wait – it’s actually broken! Everything is broken in my house. But that’s another story.
Our earthly investments, successes, victories, highlights, pleasures and treasures of life, are the vibrant beautiful aromatic flowers of the field. They are wonderful! But Seasonal. So if I know that, why does my word crash when they fall?
My own tulip investing days and the inevitable losses probably look much different than your own. My mania involved tirelessly investing in ways to project the facade that I was “perfect”. I reasoned, that I just wanted God to look good so I tried to become, the perfect wife, the perfect mom, the perfect teacher, the perfect student, the perfect cook, the perfect friend, the perfect host and on and on.
I invested so much time in the outward appearance of perfection I completely lost reality of who I really was. Imperfect. Broken. Fruitless. Superficial.
Spiritual Bankruptcy resulted and it effected every aspect of my life.
What are you investing in? Maybe you’ve invested too heavily in your job, money, ministry, sports, status, fame, academia…
Maybe after all your striving you still ask yourself at the end of the day, what do I have to show for it all? Are you feeling spiritually numb and bankrupt today?
The all consuming realities of life and their ever tempting promises, the perishable things vie for our attention luring us away from THE one tangible thing that will last, “the Word of the Lord” (v.25)
Everything else I can see and touch around me is temporary, and passing away. Here today, gone tomorrow.
I receive that truth today. However, it was the bankruptcies of life that allowed me to see this truth. Bankruptcies do not not define me, they actually serve as the catalyst to search for something more eternal and meaningful than what I was investing in.
It was the very thing that pushed me from the comforts of superficial to the utmost reliance on God to become superfruitful. The result of pruning away the dead and dying parts of me that thrive off of tulip mania, and using the brokenness that resulted to produce amazing fruit that looks like health and life – change that lasts, change that is real. Having refining power and redefining purpose in my soul.
We all want this. But we don’t always want the process.
Have you read Peter’s spiritual investment advice plenty of times, and yet never really heeded the warning? Maybe you just need to hear it from Nana.
“A letter from Nana”
Grampa and I have traveled a lot in our 65 years of marriage. You know how much I love to travel. Mostly because I love the thrill of new places and meeting new people. Part of the fun of each trip is the preparations. You know me, I pride myself in never forgetting a single thing! All I did was ask where was I going, what would I be doing, and whom might I be seeing.
This latest trip however, is a little unexpected.
I’m about to take the trip of a lifetime, and I only have 3 months to prepare. You see, the biopsy I recently had came back malignant. I know, I know…I always told you I would live forever! I will darlings. Just not here.
So, what can I pack to prepare for this trip? I started to think. Well, I’m going to a new state I’ve never been – called Glory. I’ll be be worshiping my God. Lover, Creator and Redeemer. I know I haven’t had a chance to talk a lot about my relationship with God with you all But He assured me He’s expecting me, the arrangements have all made, my transportation, my accommodations- all taken care of (Jn. 14:2-3).… stop your tears, now -that doesn’t sound so bad does it!? One thing He did say was…
This time, I can’t take anything with me…..no suitcase, no change of clothes, no makeup or jewelry. I am all that is going.
But wait! I can take the scriptures I have all packed up tidy in my soul. I have all the all the beautiful changes the Holy Spirit has made, and then there’s some amazing fruit that God has been growing in me – that is sure to come along! I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!
If I had to leave just a few last words I would say, invest in the things of eternal value. I know I haven’t always gotten that right, or been the best example for you. I know it’s not easy because you are young, everything seems to be screaming the opposite and appealing to you to make a name for yourself or to achieve so you can have more. But if anyone can do it, if anyone can live life with an eternal perspective, I am betting on the best 13 grandchildren to to live everyday like you’re terminally ill, because really we All are. THEN you’ll live everyday like your soul is eternal. Because it is. With all my love, Nana.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.
( Ps. 73:25-26)
Song To PRAY