Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 9 September 2017
Page 14

Desire for Things

Donald R. Fox

Donald R. FoxThe Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley, lived in a four-story brownstone house located in Harlem, New York. Both were college educated, and they also were extremely eccentric and reclusive. Over the years, their home became a junk fortress. When it was apparent that these two brothers had died, officials entered their home. They found the entire four-stories filled with junk. With boarded up windows, the house had no telephone, power or water. The brothers hauled water from a pond located in a park that was four blocks away. They barricaded themselves and lived in isolation from the outside world. These two men had accumulated a vast amount of junk to include an old Ford Model T automobile, yes, in their house.

The first observation of their bizarre behavior and their self-restricted world was observed in the year of 1942. After their death and the finding of their bodies, approximately 130 to 180 tons of litter and junk were removed from the house. The year was 1947. Such is the extreme desire for material things that shattered the lives of these two very sad human beings.

We would pray that such a strong desire for possessions would not own us. Yet, we know that many have this trait. Why would so many allow themselves to be captured by their self-serving material possessions? We have heard persons say, “Why do I need God?” as they looked upon their great material belongings and wealth. You see, their entire self—their whole being—is wrapped around their property. Can we learn from the depressing, yet true story of the Collyer brothers and their “palace of junk”?

This kind of great hoarding as the Collyer’s practiced is occasionally called “disposophobia.” To this day when New York City Firefighters come into contact with an apartment or a house that is packed full of stuff, they call it a “Collyer.”

Do we recall the parable of the rich fool?

…The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou foul, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21; cf., Luke 18:18-23, The Rich Young Ruler)

“It was said they [the Collyer brothers] were the richest men in New York City. There were stories of seeing the “ghostly man” out picking through garbage in the dead of night. The building and its owners would finally divulge most of their secrets in 1947. By then, it had become a tomb” (http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1513802).

Pressed for Time

Chad Ezelle

Lately, it seems like I’ve been consistently adding things to my plate. Tasks, jobs and responsibilities seem to pile up pretty quickly, and those things tend to dominate our lives, don’t they?

Yet, as the burdens get more numerous and heavier, have you been guilty of leaving God out of your life every now and then? With the added responsibility you might have recently taken, did you make sure you still found time to read God’s Word and pray to Him?

If your life seems to be getting cluttered like mine, will you commit to making more time for God as your tasks and jobs increase? What would that look like practically in your life?

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