For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
I was thinking about treasures yesterday, noticing the things in my life I put value on. There are obvious ones like friends and family, but a bunch of less obvious ones (buried treasures, you might say): the way I look physically, what other people think of me, the control I may or may not have, the size of my bank account, my dreams for the future, even this blog to a certain extent.
This was a good week to process the concept of treasuring the things of this world vs the things of God. I had a surgery last Wednesday – nothing serious, just a routine outpatient procedure to correct a birth defect on my neck. I realized several things about myself and my treasures through the experience.
My mom came from out of state for a week to take care of me. I love my mom, and every part of me is thankful she came and did my chores and administered my meds and got me water in the middle of the night. But it was a huge reminder that when I’m in need I still turn to my mom instead of to a husband. Instead of treasuring my hope of being married – which would only lead to bitterness – I chose to treasure the fact that Jesus (my eternal husband) was giving me invaluable time with my mother (in fact, more one-on-one time than I’ve had with her for over 30 years, no joke).
I had to take time off work, even though all of my PTO this year is going to other trips; so my next paycheck is going to be significantly smaller than usual. Instead of treasuring my bank account – which would only lead to stress – I chose to treasure the eternal riches I am promised in Jesus (Luke 12:33).
Like most people, I like to be in control of what’s happening to my body. The very fact that I had a birth defect I didn’t understand until I was 16 was the first sign I don’t have all the control I want. Surrendering to the surgeon and anesthesiologist was a true leap of faith for me; I didn’t know what I was going to feel like when I woke up, if I would be okay, if the problem would recur post-surgery, etc. Instead of treasuring control – which would have led to frustration and doubting God’s goodness – I chose to treasure the opportunity to let go and let God be in control.
Unlike most people, I really do genuinely love my body and would unhesitatingly walk through the “beautiful” door in this Dove Beauty campaign ad. For some reason, though, I was super scared of the swelling after surgery. Not the scar (heck, scars are cool). The swelling. I didn’t want to have a double-chin for six weeks or so. I didn’t want people to judge me for gaining 25 pounds in my neck and lower mandibular area. Instead of treasuring what people think of me – which leads to self-doubt and vanity – I find myself having to constantly choose to treasure what Jesus thinks of me (He thinks I’m beautiful, by the way; I’m made in the image of God).
In the constant re-directing of my heretofore subconscious (buried) treasures, I’ve had the opportunity to process the reasons that those treasures are not really treasures and the reasons that Jesus is a better treasure than all of them.
The very first time that humans (Adam and Eve) took their eyes off the treasures that God had given them (Himself, a utopian garden, unity with each other, etc.), it was because they were distracted by a sinful pleasure. At some point, they decided that that gosh-darn fruit was more attractive, more satisfying, and more worth pursuing than God was. Ever since then, the same story has played itself out countless times in individuals, families, nations, and me.
Every time I choose to value my bank account or other people’s opinions of me more than I value God’s provision and opinion, I’m reenacting The Fall (Genesis 3); I’m telling God He’s not attractive or valuable or satisfying enough. I’m sinning, believing and living a lie.
The truth is, God is attractive, valuable, satisfying – and so much more. He proved it by providing a way to bridge the gap that Adam and Eve created between Himself and humans. He proved it by requiring perfection, and then providing His only Son to live out that perfection in our place.
His Son (Jesus) came to earth as a human to live the perfect life, always treasuring God above sin, so that His eventual, brutal death would recompense for all the times that I fail to treasure God well; so that His resurrection from death would make a way for my sinful self to still spend eternity with the loving God Who wants to be my forever-treasure.
Going into surgery, then recovery, then limited hours back at work – it’s all been so much better than it could have been, because I chose daily (sometimes hourly) to treasure Jesus above all else. If I’d hung onto my earthly treasures, I’d have been bitter, stressed, frustrated, vain, and scared; instead, I’m healthy (emotionally and physically), grateful, and ready to send those earthly, worthless “treasures” to the bottom of the ocean and blow them up.
Now excuse me while I go look up YouTube videos on scarf-tying techniques to use for the next five weeks or so.