The following post is from my bi-weekly e-newsletter. I don’t typically share this content on my blog, but I thought I’d offer a bit of a sample of what you can expect if you sign up:
A man is laboring in the field for a large business. He’s removing rocks with his shovel in the heat of the day, and it’s back-breaking work.
Still, he keeps showing up and working from sun up to sun down in order to provide for his family, creating a small but pleasant little oasis in the home that they had saved up to buy.
Everything in the man’s life changes when his shovel smashes into a metal box.
He looks over his shoulder to make sure no one is looking.
He’s all alone.
Smashing the lock off the box with a fierce thrust of his shovel, he finds stacks of large bills, rare coins, and impressively large jewels. He’s never seen anything quite like this.
Although he is overjoyed by his discovery, which he quickly covers up and marks with a uniquely shaped rock, he knows that his wife may have a hard time accepting what they must do next.
In order to buy the parcel of land where he found the box, he has to convince his wife to sell their fine little home and just about everything else they own.
That evening she agrees but with grave reservations. When his family catches wind that he is selling everything he owns in order to buy an empty field, they’re livid. They mock him and some even threaten to disown him as he sells one possession after another.
We all know how this parable of Jesus ends. Who wouldn’t want to be that man who found the treasure?
Then again, perhaps we forget that gaining a treasure beyond our wildest dreams means we must make significant sacrifices and even work extremely hard in order to attain it.
That doesn’t mean we could ever possibly earn the treasure in this parable. No one is worthy of God’s Kingdom. It’s a pure gift that is given to us. However, it is a gift that we can fail to find if we cling to possessions and priorities that we mistakenly believe to be more valuable.
In fact, we can fail to receive this incredible gift if we’re too lazy or too afraid to do the work required to attain it.
I’ve been guilty of wanting quick fix Christianity and attempting drive through spirituality at times.
I want to read the book, learn the thing, add the practice, or recite the prayer that makes things better NOW.
But finding the treasure of God’s Kingdom, seeking the presence of God, or being transformed into a kind, loving person who imitates Jesus isn’t a crash diet or life hack.
I see the daily disciplines of pursuing silence, settling my mind before God to pray, and meditating on scripture as the shovels we use to toss aside the many distractions that keep us from the treasure of God’s presence.
In order to pursue this treasure, we have to leave so many other things behind, even good things. It’s not without a cost. It’s not without faith that we are setting aside good things for something better.
This is especially true in the discipline of prayer. Honestly, there are days when it feels like nothing much is going on.
Yay! I just spent 20 minutes sitting quietly on my couch! Go God!
However, if I neglect that time, I miss out on the epiphanies and holy moments that most certainly come in their time. In addition, if I fail to take that time to be still, I’ll most certainly spend my days in motion, frantically running from one thing to another.
It’s a daily discipline to keep digging, to keep counting the cost, and to keep making sacrifices in the hope that God can lead us to something better.
This is faith in action.
It’s not fast.
It’s not glamorous.
It’s not something you can capture in a selfie, sharable image, or tweet.
Some days it feels like you’re just slinging one pile of rocks into another pile of rocks.
And then some days you strike that treasure. The presence of God slowly creeps in and brings peace, hope, and joy.
In that moment, we can be assured that we have never earned this magnificent gift, but we have certainly moved what feels like heaven and earth in order to find it.
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