Nothing is ours. The reputation we have spent our entire lives sculpting, the image we have fought so hard to create, the overflowing closets, garages, and bank accounts … none of it is ours. Quite the opposite, we are theirs.

Rather than owning our possessions and our achievements, at the end of our life’s toil, most find that these things, in fact, own us. They have promised much and delivered little. We thought we were living for ourselves, merely using these pursuits for our own ends. Often too late, we find we have been duped; we have followed after a fraud.

Our culture supports and maintains the illusion that we are the masters of our universe. We are taught that we are independent creatures who, given enough time and exerting enough will, can create our own kingdoms. Our achievements are our serfs. Our amassed treasures our vassals. The throne is ours to build, to polish, and to keep. We are king of the hill. And it’s a lie.

We become prisoners in our own dungeon. Our reputation becomes our god, and then our brutal master. Our treasure initially yields us pride, but eventually gives way to sorrow as it feeds our fears. Can we keep it? Will everyone see it? But if they see it, will they try to take it? How can I get more?

We mistakenly believe all things are ours to take, to use, to abuse. We believe ourselves bigger than we are. And things we naively think we control toy with us until we are so firmly in their grasp they consume us. And we shrink away, lonely, filled with despair.

But there is another way. Freedom on this perilous path is not found, as so many think, in becoming the owner of all we can grasp but rather in recognizing who is. David bluntly offers this wisdom: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (Ps 24:1)

So simple it stings. Everything is God’s. Everything. Reputations. Corporations. Relationships. Children. Promotions. Dreams. Especially dreams.

It’s all His. Lest we are tempted to believe this makes us inconsequential and our lives irrelevant, David speaks further, completing his simple observation, “…the world [is the Lord’s], and all who live in it.” We are not mere pawns; we are His. We are not independent despots, abandoned on a lonely planet to scrape out our own meager kingdoms. We are part of a much bigger kingdom, God’s kingdom.

And the door to freedom swings wide open. Race your bike down the steep hill, arms flung to the sky. Walk beside the high mountain lake, content in the moment. Mix your chocolate and strawberry ice cream. The pressure’s off. It’s God’s world, not yours.

But what if we fail? The earth is the Lord’s.

And if we succeed? The earth is the Lord’s.

Nothing is ours, and nothing could feel better.

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