This past week or two have been a whirlwind of emotions for our country. While going out to see my dad this past week to help with his care, we were overwhelmed with news media about election results. As many of you know there were riots in Portland, OR. That’s where I flew into and out of this past week. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were driving from eastern Oregon through Portland and were concerned about their safety – I was concerned as well.
To add to the craziness of life, the stock market plummeted. Then it soared, reaching new heights. I have to tell you, my emotions these past weeks have mirrored the Stock Market. These past several days have been a roller coaster. And not the safe ones that we encounter at Six Flags, but the carnival ones that are torn down and reassembled on a weekly basis. The events of the past couple of weeks got me thinking about where my security is, where my heart is, in uncertain political as well as personal times?
Staying in my parents home was surreal. Mom is present, her fingerprints are all over the house, but she is not there. That was profoundly seen and experienced when I made the meals that my dad and I ate. I would ask my dad where this or that was, and my dad would say, “well your mother keeps it here, I haven’t seen the need to change the location.” We talked about her often and how she made this house they lived in for three decades a home. Upon a meals end I would say to my dad, “well the meal was successful, neither one of us has food poisoning!” He would grin and nod. As a footnote: my dad cooked while my mom was in the hospital some 46 years ago when my brother was born. The burnt hamburger helper and something that no one could identify, made he and I sick, my other brother, the middle child, wisely refused to eat what was placed on the table and opted for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He is still known as the smarter of us Elliott boys.
I would like to thank you all for praying for my dad. He is doing well. We have things in place for him to be successful and live independently. I as well as my family is thankful for your prayers, phone calls, and kind words of encouragement.
So, with a roller coaster emotional heart I began to think about where my treasures in this world reside.
Thanksgiving is a time where family seems to be important to us. We treasure their proximity to us. We gather. We feast. We laugh. We love. We treasure our time together.
But what happens when life changes and times of yester year are in the rearview mirror? People have moved on. Moved out. Where then is our treasure and how do we truly find hope. We have our memories of those we love. Those are precious things. Many of us treasure those memories, those blessings of the day. I dabbled in those memories this past week as I looked at pictures that captured time shared with my mom and dad living life with their grandchildren. For a time, I wanted those days back. I found myself trapped in the past joy filled emotion that they brought. I longed for things to be the way they were. Have you ever wanted that? Longing, desiring the things that we remember as simple times, better times? I treasure those memories, but, and I say this with some reluctance, nostalgic reluctance – Are my memories of the past tainted with nostalgic romantic notions? I would like to tell you that I remember things with perfect and objective accuracy, but really, I see many memories as rosy colored reflections, close maybe, but not accurate. Because even though I loved those times in my memories – I have to tell you that there were conflicts in some of those gatherings. Time has made the troubles, the conflicts of those past events slip by like leaves on troubled waters. The reality is that my memory is often flawed when it comes to past events. Emotions have a way of doing that, don’t they. So the past that I treasure, is not always as perfect as I would like. In some ways the past is like stuff – it accumulates. Sometimes that stuff can clutter and get in the way of life, like in hoarding things, so that we can have more and more stuff. Some memories can do that as well. We can grandiose and treasure some memories so much that we can become trapped by them, they can clutter our lives and bury us in the past, sometimes a false past, sometimes just a stuck past.
I was walking with my dad around the outside of his house and noticed a lot of piles of things, as well as outbuildings made to hold things. I asked what this or that was for, he said, “well I may need that someday. I may want to use that on . . .” To me it was clutter, to him the clutter was something that made him remember the past. I am not sure which of us has a better perspective on the piles of stuff around the house, or in the various outbuildings but it got me to thinking about treasures as it pertains to my hearts desire around said treasure and this scripture came to my mind:
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus said these words and they are recorded in Matthew 6:19–21. I hear in these words Jesus talking about material things. Stuff that is here today and gone tomorrow. We all know that the accumulation of stuff is ever with us. We have a whole industry known as Storage units, where all that “treasure” can be kept. I have storage stuff as well. When I asked my dad about all the stuff, he said, “well I won’t have to deal with it when I’m gone, you and your brothers will.” For him it was for someone else to sort through and deal with. Jesus tells us the same thing when it comes to stuff. Someone else will deal with those things that you have “treasured.”
Jesus calls us to somewhere else in our living of life – he speaks of heaven, he whispers of real treasure with a heart that will reveal what our true self values.
How do we know the worth of something? Often we seek out and ask an expert, an expert in value. When Teresa and I wanted a home loan, an appraisal was done on our homes value. They looked at the home’s structure, how much land we had and then they looked at comps (What properties similar to ours were selling for in our area). They valued based on the ever changing market value. Before the rust set in, while the rust set in. But the value was not based on the future price of our home. That is not really known. There is only one home that we really know the value of . . .
Jesus talks about heaven as a future reality, a future home, all while living in our present. In many ways Jesus is a venture capitalist. But his venture is the adventure of heaven. He asks us to look at our hearts, really ask ourselves what it is that we value in the here and now and how that will translate into eternity. Jesus is asking us to see the possibilities of what our time and efforts spent in this world can mean for the world that will never pass away.
Where does your heart, your inner self tell you, you belong? The heart can be a system check on what you hold as important. To see where your heart is, what you value, think about what you would say if someone asked you – what can I pray for you about? When you hear that question, what immediately comes to mind?
It may be a flood of things, but for a moment ask yourself, what stands out most to me. That may give you an insight into your treasure, your heart’s desire.
I often think of security. I want my children and their children safe. I want my family safe and secure. But is that a reasonable desire given that all of life is a risk. And without risk, without some form of stress we do not thrive and grow. Have I somehow stored in my heart something that God does not value?
This past week at my parents home, while I pondered the nostalgia of the past, there came a reality check, a heart’s desire check if you will. It came in form of a one year old little girl. She walked on unsteady feet and explored her world. Her parents did not stop her ventures, they allowed her the adventure of discovery. They were close, but not hovering. They allowed some form of failure, but more importantly they celebrated in her discoveries as her little victories. Risky to allow one so young to explore, yes it is. But how will we learn if not by risk. And how will we know our heart’s if we do not live for a future and a treasure that seeks something that will not fade, or rust, or trap us in ourselves, but release us to the joy of heaven. Our treasure is one another, experienced in the now, and treasured in the reality of heaven. Where is your treasure hunt taking you? And are you finding your true self, your lived out life, in your hearts journeys? Find it and you will find life, Jesus real life.