There are more stories than I can count that have to do with some kind of buried treasure. One of my personal favorites is the story of Treasure Island, particularly the Muppets Treasure Island film (what can I say, I am a fan of the Muppets) . In the movie, the sailors overcome many obstacles on their way to find buried treasure, only to be overcome by pirates who try to steal the treasure. When the pirates arrive to the place that was marked on the map with an "X", they discover that the treasure is gone...it was already taken by someone else! The treasure that they spent so much time pursuing wasn't even there in the end- definitely the kind of treasure we don't want to be stuck with. A treasure not there is a wrong kind of treasure. Another of my favorite movies is "The Count of Monte Cristo." In that movie, Edmond Dantes finds the treasure that the old, imprisoned priest told him about. That treasure was very real, and it helped turn Dantes into the Count and spin his revenge on his friend-turned-enemy, Fernand Mondego. This treasure is different from the first treasure. The first treasure was just an illusion, something they thought was there but it wasn't. The second treasure was there and it was real- but it was used for the wrong purposes. The treasure led to sorrow and death...not things that people usually would like to accomplish with a treasure, and another example of a wrong kind of treasure.
In life, we are all busy looking for treasure. It may not be buried treasure, like in the movies, and we may not be so naive to believe in pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but we still search for treasure, for worth, for value in the things we do every day. Most of us live our lives around the things we think are most important, the things that we value most. A lot of the things that are "treasure" to us are good things. Most of us would probably put a lot of value on our relationship with God, our family, and maybe even virtues like honesty, patience, and kindness. On a daily basis, we would probably start to list other things that we value- a clean house, a good meal, a steady job, a neatly organized, independent life. We often spend the majority of our lives trying to reach professional or social goals, none of which are necessarily bad, but they can often end up being the wrong kinds of treasure.
The things we can accomplish and the things we can attain here in this life are not eternal. We can feel successful because of the big, beautiful home we have, or the job promotion we worked so hard for. Those things are fine, even nice to have, but they are not the things that last. Sometimes they are illusions like treasure #1- things to attain that will get us to where we want to be, but when we get there, we are right back where we started, wanting more. Sometimes they really are treasures like treasure #2, but we use them in the wrong way and they end up being more of a curse than a blessing. They often are things that we work really hard for and we think they will make us happy, but in the end they just bring bills or stress or unhappiness or all of the above.
The point I am trying to make is not that these things are bad. They're not. In fact, the Bible says that every good gift comes from the Father...they are blessings meant to be enjoyed. The mistake comes when we try to build our lives around those things...and they don't last. People lose homes in the blink of an eye to fires or natural disasters. Cars are totaled in accidents. Beauty is lost with age. Companies lay off faithful employees. Family members and friends move away and even die. Relationships that we thought we could count on end. None of it lasts forever. It's nice while we have it...but if those things are the treasure we are building our life around, we may wake up one day to find it all gone and ourselves left with nothing.
Are there any treasures that can last forever? Of course there are. God lasts. Christ's love and mercy are for everyone. The Gospel message can touch people...and those people will live forever in God's presence because they accepted God's grace. Telling someone about the salvation that Christ offers each one of us, and seeing them accept that gift, is an eternal treasure. It's something that can never be lost or taken away. Investing in your children spiritually and teaching them to have a personal relationship with Christ is eternal. Not only will they spend eternity with Christ, but until their "eternity" begins, they can share the Gospel message with many others. Those treasures, the ones that are eternal, are the ones I want to reach for. I enjoy the temporary blessings, but I want to build my life around the eternal things
We have been criticized a lot recently over having "so many kids" or for going on mission trips instead of trying to build our house. We always are open to advice and we respect others' opinions, but when it comes down to it, this is my answer to the criticism. Our goal as a marriage, a family, and a ministry is to store up the right kind of treasures...the kind that last forever. We may not have all the things that others have, we may not have a nice house, we may not be able to do all the things we want to. Our job is usually without promotion, and there's no provision for retirement...in fact, we probably will never retire. That doesn't worry us. Life isn't a guarantee. We just want to spend the time we have doing things that will last beyond our own lives. We want to love each other and enjoy spending time together. We want to build relationships with others, caring for them and ministering to their needs, showing Christ's love to the people we meet. The things we have in our possession now won't be with us forever. We won't take our house, our car, or our titles with us to heaven. But we want to take as much with us as we can. Our kids. Our extended family. Other believers. We want to be rich with the right treasures. We want to arrive in the presence of our Father to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
God, please help us to store up the right treasures...the eternal kind. We want our love for you to be the driving force, the motivation behind everything we do.