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Do You Have a Barn? Do You Have a Barn?
    by Cary Branscum

    The rich man had it ALL, or so he thought. The man enjoyed great harvests, and he had no place to store his crops. He said “I will tear down my barns, and build bigger barns”.

    This has never made sense to me. Why would he tear down his barns and build bigger barns? Why not build more barns next to the old ones? I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. We built as many buildings as we needed, but we never tore any down.

    The man also planned to retire, and assumed his wealth would take him through a long, wealthy retirement. God called him a fool. What good are these things if you don’t have God? Material goods fade to nothing at our death, and God is our only real hope — not only in death, but in life!

    You know what? God could have been his barn. He could have laid up spiritual treasure with God, and God would have kept it all safely in store for his eternal reward. Instead, he chose to tear down the barn he had so he could build a bigger one. I may not be a genius, but I’m no fool either: a bigger barn without God and tearing down what you’ve already built doesn’t make much sense to me!

    Do you have a barn?

    Last week I travelled to Oklahoma City on business. The weather was freezing. Winter is cold and brutal in northern Oklahoma. The cold is etched in my memory, since I grew up on a farm just an hour north of the City. My folks moved to Oklahoma City some years ago, and I spent the night with them. I awoke in the predawn hours thinking about the farm. “It’s been abandoned for twenty years, and I’m sure the old shaky house and buildings are fallen down by now,” I thought to myself. It was hard to believe, but I knew it was probably true. What about the old barn where I sat in the hay loft gazing out the door at the Oklahoma prairie? Had it fallen down, too? That the old barn that was my retreat, my fort, and my prairie schooner. Surely it wasn’t gone... but I knew in my heart it had to be.

    Suddenly, I wanted more than anything to see the old place. Bleary eyed, I got dressed and fumbled for my camera. Stashing it in a coat pocket. I headed out the door. Soon I was on the way up old Highway 74. As I drove north through the icy cold predawn darkness, forgotten landmarks materialized in the headlights. There’s the old Johnson place. That’s the Snyder’s metal barn where I stacked hay. There’s the sign to Cashion, the only town our little six man football team could beat. Finally, the headlights swung down the dirt road that took me to the old place.

    Weeds brushed the bottom of the car as I killed the lights and shut off the engine. Icy, pitch black, darkness engulfed me. It was 18 degrees! Even the stars seemed icy and distant. I couldn’t see a thing.

    I had forgotten how barren, bleak, and totally “away” this place is. In that old broken down house our family lived, laughed, ate, slept, cried and loved — it was our own little civilization unto itself. I got out as the new light of day reached the horizon. Pushing my way through the tall weeds, I turned the corner toward the old barn. Surely it’s fallen down, a twisted mess on the ground... but no!

I stood still in wonder...
    The sun came over my shoulder and bathed the old barn in the orange dawn light, also turning the frozen weeds and grass into glittering diamonds. Every post, every wire, every tree, every weathered board glowed a deep, cold orange. I stood still in wonder; my frozen breath the only movement.

    I walked around the old barn, still solid, still strong, not a loose bolt or a sagging hinge. Many of the nails were hand-cut, and had rusted into each board, becoming part of the wood itself. The massive timbers and boards all still tight. I looked at the old crossbeams and pillars. A realization came to me; this barn was here long before I was born, and it will be here long after I die. It will last.

    The hayloft was still a wooden cathedral, and the old door framed the frozen Oklahoma prairie — still vast, cold, empty, encased in ice and beautiful beyond description. Only I had changed. Grown up... gone away... gotten a life of my own. But the God whose Word I read in this place is with me now, and is still my Life. “God is my barn!” I felt in my soul; “solid, dependable, awe-inspiring, and with me wherever I go.”

    Soon it was time to go. I told the ghosts of memory goodbye. Time to resume this real life I had left to find.

    Nearly back to Oklahoma City, I reached into my pocket, found my camera and had a laugh at my own expense. I hadn’t taken one picture. That’s alright. My memory took pictures, and now I’ve shared them with you. And the most important one of all is the picture that only my heart could take. No matter what, God is my barn. He will never fall, fail, or shift. He will hold all my treasures. You see, there are no barns big enough to hold those heavenly treasures... except God. The most amazing thing is that it can go with me wherever I go. Anywhere!

    Do you have a barn?

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About the Author...
Cary Branscum, <cary@westover.org>, is the Singles minister at the Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. For more info, click here.

Title: "Do You Have a Barn?"
Author: Cary Branscum
Publication Date: February 9, 2001



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