In last week’s post, I gave a bit of an account of the gift of time that God has given us. The reality is that time is the only gift we all have that is completely equal for all of us – at least on a daily basis. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. The question is: what we do with the time we have each day? Of course, because of our humanity (i.e. sinfulness through Adam), we have illness, disease, early deaths, etc. So even though we all have the same number of hours each day, the length (and quality) of our lives is often quite different.
This week, I want to touch on a second gift that God has given – treasure. Now, when most of us think of treasure we think of money and possessions. Perhaps this is because of a childhood story that we heard or perhaps it is recalling the words of Jesus about where we lay up treasure. Regardless of what you consider treasure, regardless of how you value it, and regardless of how much you have, all treasure is a gift from God.
Like many young people in America, I once believed I would make tons of money and retire rich. Perhaps this would be accomplished through a career in baseball (until my elbow gave out) or in business (until God called me to serve), but it was a goal and I went into the world of investments to make it happen. Of course, in trying to make the dream happen earlier, I accumulated a lot of debt, but that was a bump in the road, or so I thought. Well, it was a bump in the road, and still is because God had other plans. But God!
As I mentioned, God called and my life changed. And I soon realized that wealth was not in my future. But wealth is a matter of perspective. As Paul wrote in Philippians, I can do all things through Christ. That verse was in reference to living in abundance or in want. I have been very close to being in dire need (and would have been beyond that point except for the grace of God extended through a particular person). And I will never have a lot of money, but God provides in ways to allow me to meet my needs (including paying off our debt), make ministry-related trips, and even have an occasional time away with my wife.
But as I have matured, I realize the greatest treasure I have is not money. I am not saying this to sound cliché – it is true. Now, to be blunt honest, I can get very busy, and that busy-ness affects my relationships – including my relationship with my wife and more importantly with God. Sometimes, God reminds me that I need to be still (like Psalm 46.10). But my wife knows that my work as pastor, professor, and with PTC, is in serving God and not only accepts this, but supports it greatly. In fact, she not only encourages me, she says it is her job to “make me look good.” And she does. I may develop content, but if it looks ok, she has had her hand in or on it. (This blog is different – my daughter has the task of making the blog look good. Shout-out to Nicole!)
So, my biggest treasure on this side of eternity is my wife. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we have recently celebrated 25 years of marriage and we both know God has blessed us with each other. And, from that union, comes the treasure of our two children and son-in-law. And as pastor, we have the blessing to work with some wonderful people in our church and town. As professor, I have the opportunity to help train the next generation of leaders. And as the leader of PTC, I have the responsibility and privilege of making new contacts (and friends!) in areas I never thought I would visit around the world. These are the true blessings – the true treasure – that God has given me. Yes, I am thankful for the house in which I live, the car that gets me from place to place, the books I read, the bed on which I sleep, etc. Having seen what some others do not have, makes me more appreciative of these treasures as well. But what I have found is that some of those friends who we think have little realize that the treasures they have far outweigh what some of the richest people in their country (or in America) have. Again, what constitutes treasure is a matter of perspective, and while I have more items in my silverware drawer (and maybe just more forks) than most of the homes do which I have seen in Kenya (for instance), the joy that is expressed by so many of the people I have encountered there, reveals an understanding that true treasure is not found in the stuff we have.
I have said many times and will conclude this post here with the idea that too many people seek what they can get from God. In doing so, they seek some form of treasure from God rather than seeking God Himself. The danger of this (again, repeating myself here) is that we might get a bunch of stuff from God, but miss out on having God. However, if we seek God, then we will not only get God (Jeremiah 29.13), we will get whatever it is that He wants to give us. We might not get it here, but the best treasure will be in eternity anyway.
So, no, I do not have a significant wealth as measured by American standards. Yet, based upon the average person in the world, I would be considered very wealthy. But these treasures mean little to me overall. I am not perfect, and do have cravings for certain items at times, but generally, that is a lesson that I have learned due to past mistakes which buried us in debt early in our marriage. However, although many would not consider me wealthy, I have great treasure. And that treasure begins and ends with the acknowledgment that all that I have – including my wife, family, and friends – are gifts from God. And that leads to the greatest treasure – the greatest Gift! – Jesus, who not only accepts me, but supports me, and encourages me, and doesn’t just make me look good, He has made me good (righteous). Again, some may read this and think this is cliché, but I know me and without Him, I have little, and am nothing. This truth is what I realize when I take time to be still and know that He is God. The true treasures in my life become evident when I slow down and realize all that He has done. And this truth is what I rest in, each day – that God has gifted me immensely and all I have to do is receive it.
God, as we prepare to celebrate the first coming of Jesus, I want to thank You again for the greatest gift You have given. Keep my heart focused on the right treasure – and that treasure begins with You.