“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
I must admit, I can’t say I know for sure what “treasures in heaven” actually are. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, but I haven’t fully figured out yet. Maybe we won’t completely understand it until we’re there? But I do know what earthly treasures are. The things that we value but are in actuality things that don’t last. Money, power, status, fame, ease, possessions, entertainment, things. So I know that heavenly treasures must be the things that will last when that stuff is gone. What exactly will that be? People saved, for sure. Perhaps genuine virtues and character growth? Sacrifices we made for God? I don’t know for sure, but I want to find out what these treasures are, and I want to chase them, because God tells me these eternal treasures are the only ones worth chasing. And I believe him, even though I struggle to live like it. But true belief is tied inextricably to action. I need to chase these eternal treasures with my life, not just my words.
“This world is not our home” is a phrase I’ve heard before. It can come off sounding a bit trite, but really, it changes everything. There are much more important things to do than “live it up” if you take this perspective. If we could really live by this, it would change our lives completely. We’d live like we were dying, as the saying goes, but in ways much more meaningful than checking things off a bucket list. We might do something like this girl. We’d live for God, and we’d change the world because we’d be willing to give up anything (money, job security, reputation, comfort, the “American Dream”) to do it. And even if what we did didn’t get noticed or seem world-changing to anyone else, we would rest secure in knowing that it mattered to God, had serious value for eternity, and was shaping our own soul in beautiful ways. I’d like to live like that.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” -Jim Elliott
The theme of not being home has been coming up regularly for me, and ties into the basis for this blog. The “security” of being established, planted in one location, is not something I am going to have for a while, if ever. And I am growing increasingly thankful for that, because, if I can keep the right perspective, our frequent moves will provide my family with frequent, tangible reminders of where our Home really is and what really matters. Yes, there can be value found in the experiences that come along with having a permanent residence and putting down roots. But I’m thankful that the path that’s ahead for us as a military family is already changing how I think about our possessions, and home-decorating, and is even moderating the exalted value I sometimes place on long-term community and relationships and security. There can be value in it all, but much of it is still temporary and often distracts us from what is going to last and from what, or rather Who is worthy of our worship.
“Safety makes us forget that we need Jesus. It would teach us to rest our hearts in the world and present an obstacle to our return to God. God will not encourage you to mistake [worldy comforts and security] for Home.” -Rev. Paul Wier
I know it’s not a given, though, that the experience of moving multiple times will ensure that my family and I have an eternal perspective. I am realizing that it must still be a choice, and lots of little choices. And I’m becoming convicted that my words, actions, and attitudes will have a significant influence on my family in this regard. If I complain about the inconveniences, if I worry about the details, I will be sending the message to my children that I don’t believe God can be trusted, not really. And I admit I am prone to do just that, to complain, to worry. But no, I want to be a pillar of spiritual, personal, and familial strength for them. I want to show by what I say and do that, no, these possessions we lug around that may or may not get lost or broken really don’t matter. That even when we experience disappointment and inconvenience, God can be trusted. That our future is in God’s hands, not in the hands of the people or systems who appear to be in control. That this is a grand adventure we are on, and the detours and setbacks only go to show us just how very trustworthy He is when the things around us go awry. That any “security” that is not centered in Christ is but an illusion. That only He is worthy of placing our trust in, and that he will go to great lengths to show us this so that we will continue to come to him, depend on him, rest in his love. That’s the kind of wife and mother I want to be. That’s the kind of example I want to be for my family, the kind of legacy I want to leave.
I’m not sure that it’s going to come naturally to me. It might be a regular struggle. But it is continually becoming more and more the passion of my heart. My interest in and even tolerance for popular culture is gradually waning, because it’s becoming glaringly obvious to me that the things it glorifies are false and perishable, and it saddens me that we so often don’t see that, see how these dangerously empty values are subtly woven into so much of what’s around us and on our tv screens. That I so often don’t see that, and am lured in by it.
“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on… those who buy something [should live] as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
When Jacob first met the king of Egypt and needed to introduce himself by summarizing his life, Jacob referred to his life a pilgrimage. It means a journey to a sacred place, typically a journey through a foreign land. God had told Jacob’s grandfather Abraham that his descendants would be strangers, foreigners in a land not their own. It was a reference to his literal descendants, the Israelites, and the time they’d spend in slavery and wandering and exile, yes. But it was also a great metaphor for us, the followers of Jesus who would be adopted into Abraham’s family, who would not quite belong to this world because it’s not our home, who would at times be slaves to that world but would ultimately be freed from our bondage to it by the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jacob knew that this earth was not his home. He had another destination in mind, and if you read the account of Jacob’s life, imperfect though he was, it’s pretty clear what the most important goal in his life was: To inherit the promises of God, eternal treasures.
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14