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Is It Worth A Few Bucks Or Half A Million Dollars?

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, skyped yesterday eager to talk about an auction he recently attended and his great buys. We both discussed how things could go for too little or too much at an auction. When you’re buying the bidding often goes too high for the money you want to spend, while when you are selling the final bid may be depressingly low.

I shared with Ed the fate of Stan Caffy, a pipe fitter, who bought a copy of the Declaration of Independence at a yard sale in Donelson Hills in 1996. He nailed it on his garage wall where it hung for ten years. After ten years of hanging on the garage wall, his wife took it and some other articles as part of a donation to the Music City Thrift Store in Nashville.

Michael Sparks browsing in the thrift store bought the yellowed, shellacked copy of the Declaration of Independence for two bucks and forty-eight cents. It turned out to be one of two hundred official copies of the document commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. Sparks was, able to sell it, for nearly half a million dollars ($477,650)

Ann Voskamp, sharing the story of Stan Caffy relates that when Stan heard about the sale, he said: “I’m happy for that Michael Sparks guy. If I still had it, it would still be hanging here in the garage, and I still wouldn’t know it was worth all that!”

I suggested that Ed might have some old thing around worth half a million dollars and not be aware of it.  “Better not to know! What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” Ed said. He then added, “It’s too depressing to think you might have half a million dollars in something that you see as worthless and not know it.”

It seems to me we all would like to find out before it was too late if we had something of great worth and were not aware of it. What is valuable and what isn’t, tends not to bother us much. What we have we may become tired of or indifferent to it’s worth. Mostly we do not realize how we are pack rats until we move or need to downsize. For many of us, we have far more stuff than we need or use. How many things hang on our walls or sit in drawers mostly forgotten or ignored. How much of our possessions are hidden away in case we might need them? The problem may be to know where they are when we need them.

In the Bible, John the Baptist spent much of his life alerting others of the great value of Jesus Christ. He wanted everyone to see the Messiah from God among them as a man in the flesh. John said that Jesus as the Lamb of God was revealed to him when he was baptizing people in the Jordan. John saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove and it remained on Jesus. John knew that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit because Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus would as the Lamb of God take away the sins of the world. How much is that worth to you?

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Raymond Maher
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