Where is Your Treasure?

A big part of recalibrating my life is simplifying. It seems that we are very good at accumulating. Year-after year we purchase or acquire more things, and we add more activities to our calendars, saying yes to people along the way.

Moving Mom has been a huge amount of work. Through the years she collected a menagerie of things, and has put her treasures in a box to save for someday-maybe. You know, “I may need this…” or “I would like to read this but there isn’t time now.” So now, there are stacks of boxes with items from years ago, and it seems there may be unknown treasure in each one.

Do you have those kind of boxes too? The ones with things that seemed too-precious to get rid of at the time, so it ended up on a stack with other boxes.

Christmas is nearing, and many are bustling about buying gifts, more jewelry, more appliances, more technology, more toys, and the list goes on. I have to confess, with all the chaos of moving Mom, any shopping for Christmas has been left for another day.

I come home from hunting for another “treasure” Mom knows is somewhere in a box that she definitely wants to keep and begin looking around my house only wanting to get rid of things. I don’t have much desire to go out and buy more stuff. Our stuff may initially seem like a treasure but in time becomes a burden. The cleaning, sorting, reorganizing; it all takes time. So, I ask, where is your treasure?

I want my house, my calendar, and life itself all to be lighter. I am realizing how easily I can be pulled off track, distracted by this want, or that desire. Oh, it may just be a passing whim, but somehow I accumulate stuff to satisfy it, and then as time passes the desire is replaced with a new desire and it starts all over again. It becomes a vicious circle of greed.

The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there  will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus wants our hearts. He is God’s Christmas gift to us, and He truly is to be treasured above all. All of life needs to flow out of life with Him. And life with Him is about the “easy yoke” and “the unforced rhythms of grace”(Matthew 11:28-30).

This month I am gleaning from the book of Luke, a chapter a day. Jesus’ life was about what came out of His time with His Heavenly Father and that abiding. It was not rushed or hurried. He focused on loving others, spending time with others, enjoying meals together, talking with, teaching, and healing. He developed relationships, and touched lives.

Simplifying life means narrowing my focus and intention to the essential. The track of recalibrating life by simplifying means getting rid of the unnecessary and focusing on the important and for me I want to focus on treasuring Christ and what is important to Him. Holding less tightly to things and all that makes you crazy-busy.

This month, as Christmas fast approaches, I have not had time to shop feverishly for lists of gifts. But I have been trying to set aside a few hours, here and there, to spend with those I care about. All too often in the past I have gotten caught up in the shopping and decorating craziness. This year I have not had time nor energy. But I am going to bake 20 big fat gingerbread men for putting together plates of Christmas cookies for gifts at church. I will attend a women’s Christmas gathering at the church a part of my extended family attends in order to spend a few hours with them. I plan to go to a Christmas sing-along at my church. I am going to take time to make some cinnamon dough ornaments to enjoy the relaxation and the smells. And I also will make a simple dinner for a few guests we want to have over through the holiday season. My husband and I already have had special  moments of time together, grabbing lunch, sitting in a favorite coffee shop, helping a neighbor, and watching a movie. We are continue to make choices for quiet. Choices, focus, intention. I can’t do it all, but I can do some things. I still will need to buy a few gifts to wrap, but it will be much different then in the past. As I said the treasures we pack away, soon become burdens, but the memories we pack in our hearts can be treasured forever. We can help boost our memories by taking a photo, or making a journal entry about the special time. These are always fu. to look back on.

I started a small “recalibrate life” journal where I am just recording those special quiet, precious moments where it isn’t all about the hustling and bustling, but instead about the breathing deeply and enjoying.

And as I walk around the house, looking in a closet, glancing at a bookshelf, I am constantly evaluating each items necessity. The boxes that are accumulating in my garage are boxes for Salvation Army, not storage.

I don’t want my “treasures” accumulated in boxes on shelves in my basement and garage. I want what I treasure to be about loving, creating, playing, finding joy, celebrating, breathing; and I want it all to be slow. Not frantic and rushed, not overwhelming and exhausting. I want quiet moments where I share time with others in focusing on mutual interests. I want it all to center around and flow out of my love for Jesus and His great love for me.

He has blessed us with the love of family and friends, with talents for creating, with reasons for celebrating, and with time to play, maybe that means building a snowman with a child, making dough ornaments with a friend, just for fun, or playing cribbage with a neighbor. Time spent together is a wonderful gift to give and it is a beautiful demonstration of love. I want my heart to be filled with Christ’s love and then I want to share that love moment-by-moment.

So, once again, I ask you where is your treasure? Is it in a box somewhere? Or in a relationship in which you celebrate special moments? Is it about love or greed? Our motives are hard to determine at times, but being intentional in how you think about “treasures” may help. I know it has helped me.

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Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Son or The Prodigal Son

The Father’s love is so inviting, generous, forgiving, and comforting.

Forgiveness can be very difficult when you feel taken advantage of, it is much easier to want to take revenge and have an “I’ll show them” attitude. But this is not so with our Heavenly Father.

Luke 15 ends with the Parable of the prodigal son. It is another familiar Bible story that beautifully demonstrate God’s amazing grace.

Jesus tells this parable to show how much the Lord really does care for human beings and to share the truth of our Heavenly Father’s delight in rescuing us. God takes joy in granting us deliverance. Jesus uses this parable to reveal our Heavenly Father’s heart. He desires for us to come to repentance. He wants us to know we can have the hope of eternal life.

How often do we find our eyes selfishly glued to getting what we want so we can have our way? The younger son in this parable wants his inheritance from the father before the father even dies. Such impatience, such an attitude of entitlement, and such a demanding way. Yet, I can see all of these attitude come about in my life at different times. How about you?

The father gives in and the son takes the inheritance money and leaves. He parties and enjoys life with others who just want a good time. He lives like this till he has squandered away all of the money. And when the money is gone so are his so-called friends. No big surprise there. Humans use others and get used by others.

When the son finally finds himself in a pig pen starving, he realizes that even his fathers’ servants have it better than what he is dealing with. It takes us coming to the end of ourselves and everything we thought could satisfy us to recognize what we really need.

The son heads home and all the way he rehearses in his mind what he will say to his father. He has it all planned out.

Little does he realize how much his father’s heart is still filled with love for him. His father has been wanting him to come home, he has been looking for him, waiting for him. His heart is tender toward his son.

So that day when the father looks down the road and sees the son, he is thrilled and he runs to meet him. This was a very dishonorable way for a man of this culture to respond. But this is such a beautiful picture of love and grace. The father running to meet his filthy, smelly son who had been so rude and ungrateful.

Jesus tells this parable to show the Pharisees and us the heart of God. God welcomes the sinful. The Pharisees were stuck in the concrete of legalism, missing God’s love, God’s grace, God’s open forgiveness. They did not see any need to repent. They didn’t see how they too had taken the Father’s gifts and used them to gain standing in their lives.

Jesus wanted them to see that it wasn’t about what they could do,  it wasn’t about them keeping the laws, and looking perfect on the outside.

It is all about knowing God’s heart. And in recognizing God’s love, humbling ourselves and repenting. We must realize our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness. The lost son realizes he has sinned against heaven and before his father as well. He sees the truth of what he has done and calls himself unworthy to be his father’s son.

We too are unworthy to be called sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father apart from the grace of Jesus taking away our sins and then covering us in His own righteousness, making us worthy before God.

The Father welcomes the Son with hugs and kisses and calls for a robe, and a party. We who have come to know our Heavenly Father through Jesus are given Christ’s robe of righteousness and look forward to a wonderful reunion in heaven. The party of all parties, I can’t even imagine how much rejoicing there will be there.

The lost was once again found. Holy God reaches to sinful humans with love and grace.

Do we see it?

Do we accept it?

Do we acknowledge its cost?

How valuable and precious we are to our Heavenly Father.

The older brother in this story is not so pleased with the party for his younger brother who left with the money. We may think, he is right, we may have felt the same way. He has after all stayed with the father and has been taking care of everything. Isn’t that unjust? But, if that is all we see, we miss how this older son was also lost. He did not recognize his father’s love for him. This older son worked to feed his own self-righteousness. He worked to prove himself. He wanted his father to see how great he was. He missed all that the father had for him. He refused to be a part of the receiving grace, or giving grace.

Where do you find yourself in this story? Do you see yourself in the attitudes of either of the sons? Do you know God’s welcoming lavish grace and love for you? Are you trying to take all you can get from the Father for your own selfish ways? Or are you somehow trying to earn your place with Him?

We may know the right answers to these questions but the way we live our lives day-to-day before God shows the reality of what is in our hearts.

The Father’s arms are open wide, ready to welcome us. Come humbly to Him and find His love. Be found in Him. His grace is amazing.