Do Not Seek the Treasure!

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 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being” (Matthew 6:19).

I went to dinner with some friends and the topic of discussion turned to internet security and hackers. There was much that I did not understand and that made my brain hurt, but the gist of the conversation is this– if someone wants your stuff bad enough, they’re probably going to find a way to get it.

There’s no such thing as security when it comes to the internet. Someone (or maybe several someones) out there is smart enough, patient enough, wily enough to crack any encryption and figure out any password.

Besides, even if you manage to fend off every thief, swindler, and hacker out there, you still can’t take it with you when you die. Case in point: have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul? Me neither.

Jesus told us that true treasures aren’t the kind behind bank vaults or in walnut frames behind your desk or the initials before and after your name. True treasures aren’t things; they’re people.

I heard a pastor say once that the reason the streets in heaven are paved with gold is that gold isn’t the real currency there. It’s like asphalt is here. The true currency in heaven is L-O-V-E. Not the syrupy, romantic kind in all those power ballads, but the kind that gives up its rights and lays down its life for the beloved. Like Jesus.

What’s the point to all this? I’m not saying to withdraw all your money and put it under your mattress. I’m telling you to remember that your worth isn’t found in your bank account or your job title or your degrees. Your true worth is in how much you love and how much you are loved.

The best treasure of all is knowing that the King of the Universe loves you truly, madly, deeply, and that love will never change.

The end.

PS I just remembered a great line from It’s a Wonderful Life that seems appropriate here– you can only take with you that which you’ve given away.

F-E-A-R

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“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love” (1 John 4:17-18, The Message).

Everyone has fears. Everyone.

Maybe yours is a fear that you will end up alone in the end.

Maybe you’re afraid that people will see the real behind the well-rehearsed act and the painted-on smiles and not want to have anything further to do with you.

Maybe you’re anxious over the future, wondering where the money is going to come from to pay the bills.

Maybe you’re scared that you’ll never find out what your purpose in life is.

Ann Voskamp put it best: “All fear is but the notion that God’s love will end.”

As a black pastor put it so well, fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Fear only shows you half the picture. Fear envisions a scenario where God either isn’t present or is unwilling to help. Fear leads you to think that the way things are now is how it will always be.

But God’s love is stronger than fear. As the song says, “Every fear has no place at the sound of Your great Name.”

When you focus on fear, you live defeated. When you focus on the love of God and choose gratitude and thanksgiving and joy, you’re showing fear the door.

Choose joy. Choose gratitude. Choose life.

I’m not saying I have fear and anxiety mastered. Some days, it can feel overwhelming. But I know that the future Jesus has promised me is more real than the present fear that I’m feeling.

Perfect love casts out all fear. Just remember that.

 

 

Some not-so-original thoughts on prayer

“To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. … Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts — beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful — can be thought in the presence of God. … Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centred monologue to a God-centred dialogue” (Henri Nouwen).

Prayer is not about me letting God in on information He was unaware of, or getting Him to do or change things for me. Prayer is about getting to know the heart and mind of God. It’s about seeing my problems and issues with His eyes. It’s about me being conformed into His image, which is ultimately God’s will for all of us.

Prayer is not just about me alone with God. It’s about me and other believers coming together in one accord before God, praying as one. It’s about seeing and seeking God in every waking moment.

All that to say that I am not really that good at prayer. I can pray in emergencies or crisis, but I forget to pray when I feel I am in status quo normal mode. Sometimes, I even forget about God and all He’s done for me. But I’m learning not to come at God all the time asking for things and not sticking around for His responses. I’m learning to come to God and be open to whatever He has for me. I’m learning to be still and listen. I’m learning to quiet my mind and be still. I’m learning to pray not my will, but Thine.

I am a student in the school of prayer who has a very patient Master who won’t ever flunk me or get frustrated with me or give up on me. He is pleased with my weak efforts and my directionless monologues out of a mind that is so easily distracted by anything and everything else. I have an Interpreter who will take the groans and sighs of mine that can’t find words and turn them into perfect prayers.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.