Is it just a t-shirt?


By Timothy Johnson

Preacher’s Point

In July 2021, my wife and I climbed a volcano.

We drove to the Grand Canyon for vacation. Before we left the Canyon, we decided to stop at any attractions that seemed interesting on the drive home. In New Mexico, we saw signs for the “Ice Cave & Bandera Volcano.” Off to the volcano we went.

Upon arrival, two choices were available: climbing the volcano and descending into the Ice Cave. We did both.

First came the volcano. When I think of climbing a mountain, I think of people using grappling hooks, being tied to each other, and using boots with spikes sticking out of the toes. But in this case, it was a steep path that ascended upward as it circled the volcano. There were signs along the way pointing out visible points of interest and telling us to watch for bears. We utilized the benches scattered along the path. We thoroughly enjoyed God’s handiwork along the trail, especially at the top, looking down into the mouth of the volcano.

After coming down from Mount Bandera and visiting the ice cave, we found ourselves in the gift shop. In the gift shop, I see T-shirts. “I climbed a volcano” with a drawing of a man with climbing boots and a pick-ax on the side of a mountain. I said to Julie, “Let’s get T-shirts.”

“Are you sure?” The question was a financial one. Most of our “vacations” were spent visiting family. The few times we traveled for fun; souvenirs usually consisted of refrigerator magnets – the $1-$3 type. This moment was the first time we would spend $20 on a souvenir T-shirt. We bought one for each of us. I got light blue, and Julie chose purple.

I cherish those shirts:

1. Those shirts commemorate something Julie and I did together.

2. We were both in our sixties and not in the best health when we trekked up the path, but we got her done.

3. It was the first time in our lives we spent a total of $40 on souvenir shirts.

But there is more behind the sentimental value of the shirts. Climbing the volcano may be Julie, and I’s last rugged activity together.

We both tested positive for Covid less than a month after our return. I fought the disease off at home, sleeping most of the time, forcing myself to eat homemade chicken soup, and taking a regimen of vitamins. Julie, however, had it much worse. Three days after the positive test, she was admitted to the hospital. There was talk of putting her on a respirator. I prayed for her recovery. I prayed for her physical life. After a while, she came home.

The effects of Covid still linger. After returning home, Julie was on oxygen for six months. Although she no longer requires oxygen, because of the scaring on her lungs, she gets short-winded very quickly. A trip to the zoo, for example, requires an electric cart after two hours or so. For myself, I can count on one hand the number of naps I had taken in my adult life. However, since Covid, I have taken a nap nearly every day.

The T-shirts are a reminder of a healthier and younger us.

Over time the T-shirt will wear out. Multiple washings, sweat, dirt, and the occasional tear will all contribute to the shirt’s demise. Being a guy, I may wear mine until it is unrecognizable. If the shirt survives until my death, it will either spend its days on a second-hand store rack or be thrown in the trash. The sentimental value will no longer exist. Eventually, the shirt will melt with the rest of the elements of this universe (2 Peter 3:10-12).

In the grand scheme of things, is my “I climbed a volcano” T-shirt anything more than just a shirt?

But what about us? Are we anything more than a T-shirt? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the average lifespan of an American male at 73.5 years; for women, the number jumps to 79.3. I have about ten years left; Julie has fifteen if we live the average.

We are more than a T-shirt. Humankind is created in the image of God. Our sin separated us from God, but God Himself came to this earth and died for our sins. God knew that the wages of sin is death, so He came to die in our place – shedding His blood for the remission of our sins.

There will come a day when the T-shirt I cherish will no longer exist, but for everyone ever conceived, there will never come a day they will not exist. Yes, the day of their earthly pilgrimage will end, but we move on from here to life everlasting in heaven or an eternity in the flames of hell.

The choice is yours. You can take God at His Word and have faith that His death on the cross washed your sins away, or you can try to cleanse your sins on your own and fail.

The T-shirt has some value to me because of the story behind it and the memories it stirs, but in the long run, it isn’t very important. However, you are of infinite value because the greatest price ever paid for anything was paid for you – God’s only begotten Son.

Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Website:; Email: [email protected]; Mail: 25 W 1200 N; Kingman IN 47952. Facebook: All Scripture KJV.

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