Friday, 9 December 2011

He who dies with most toys wins? Vs. seeking the Kingdom of God and having toys added to you.

I was fortunate to be mentored by a truly saintly Christian woman, Lolly Dunlap when I lived in America in my thirties. See my eulogy which was one of those used at her funeral.

Now, I didn’t think I was materialistic then, and would have hotly and scornfully denied the suggestion, and, in fact, looked down on those who I judged to be materialistic with a touch of disdain.

Did materialism touch my thoughts? Well, I would often say to Roy or friends, “Well, when we make some money we will buy a house on the water; a vacation home in the mountains or on the sea to escape to and decompress on weekends; a boat, a camper van, a…”

(Well, I must admit, I still thoroughly enjoy all these things—and use them a few times a year. However, I know my organisational limits, and want to keep a life uncluttered of worry and anxiety, so I rent other people’s vacation homes in the mountains or near beaches, camper vans, boats etc.)
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Lolly was absolutely the most unworldly lady I have ever known, gentle, generous, trusting, giving. She was constantly giving me gifts, beloved books, hand-painted capodimonte porcelain roses.

And, to my amusement, I slowly discovered that this most simple and unworldly of women, married to a man passionate about building Christ’s Kingdom, owned all these things I planned to buy when I had money!!
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She had a mountain cabin near Shenandoah National Park with 100 acres around it, from which she could see three states. She had a house on the water in Norfolk. She had a boat. She had a camper van, in which she used to go on long holidays in Voyageurs National Park, Canada.

How did she get all this? Her husband, John Dunlap, was a church planter, one of the post war breed of entrepreneurial, visionary American evangelicals, who founded Triple R Ranch, Norfolk Christian Schools, and the famous Tab church in Norfolk.

They took a low salary; they had three children; they were generous givers who lived simply.

However, John Dunlap was an insomniac with a gift: repairing clocks. And so he bought antique broken clocks for a song, repaired them, and then went to antique and other fairs to trade them. One weekend he went to a fair in North Carolina with a clock, traded up, and traded up, and returned with a used Recreational Vehicle (camper van for Brits). He got a boat with similar wheeling-dealing.

He inherited 10,000 dollars, not much, and used part of it to buy a cabin and 100 acres near Shenandoah National Park. The inheritance money was also used to buy Triple R Ranch, a Christian camp which has blessed thousands.

Fear not, little flock, for it is your father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom. So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6: 31-33

 And you can die with the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness and his shalom (and if it your father’s pleasure, with toys as well).
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How did I think of this?  I no longer particularly worry about material things, but I was, today, fretting about my writing? Will it ever take off?

And I remembered Lolly, and what the Spirit said to me was, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”



  1. What a blessing, Anita, to have been her friend! Very inspiring.

  2. Lolly sounds like a precious and wise lady. Your post is a timely reminder of what and Who we should be seeking.

  3. I love that story! That is a great example of the promise that if we give we will receive, and also shows how God loves to bless us :) I also love your conclusion - one of my favourite verses, but even then I so often forget it and start worrying!

  4. Thanks, Sharon, Rhoda and Jen,

    Our pastor often quoted her in sermons. He said when he had gone to condole with her on the death of her beloved son, she met him at the door, saying, "There is a river whose streams make glad..."
    Sitting there, I prayed I could be mentored by someone so poetic, and so deep. I met her later that week at a lunch in a mutual friend's house, who thought we would like each other. Well, we did, and I asked her to mentor me (a few days after the death of her son). She agreed, and we got on beautifully!


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