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You Can’t Take It with You

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6–7)
 

On May 25, 1994, the ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson were buried in the driver’s seat of his 1984 white Corvette. 

Swanson, a beer distributor and former U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, died the previous March at the age of 71. He had reportedly been planning his automobile burial for some time, buying 12 burial plots at Brush Creek Cemetery, located 25 miles east of Pittsburgh, in order to ensure that his beloved Corvette would fit in his grave with him. “George wanted to go out in style, and, indeed, now he will,” commented Swanson’s lawyer in a report from The Associated Press.

According to the AP, Swanson’s widow, Caroline, transported her husband’s ashes to the cemetery on the seat of her own white 1993 Corvette. The ashes were then placed on the driver’s seat of his 10-year-old car, which had only 27,000 miles on the odometer. Inside the car, mourners also placed a lap quilt made by a group of women from Swanson’s church, a love note from his wife and an Engelbert Humperdinck tape in the cassette deck, with the song “Release Me” cued up and ready to play. As 50 mourners looked on, a crane lowered the Corvette into a 7-by-7-by-16-foot hole.   

“George always said he lived a fabulous life, and he went out in a fabulous style,” Caroline Swanson said later. “You have a lot of people saying they want to take it with them. He took it with him.” 

 
The truth is, George Swanson couldn’t take it with him. “[We] brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7) Although others may have praised him for doing what he always wanted and “going out in style,” Mr. Swanson’s actions were both foolish and incredibly selfish. 
 
Although the motto of some people seems to be “He who dies with the most toys wins”, the Apostle James warned that people who die with the most treasure are actually the biggest losers! “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (James 5:1–3)
 
If he would have read his Bible, George Swanson would have read the account of a rich man, who also could not take anything with him when he died. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20–21)  Jesus warned, “…Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)
 

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)