Ah, it is that cathartic time of year when the party is over, and the clean-up has begun. The tinsel, the trees, the twinkling lights of the holiday season have been taken down and relegated to their designated storage totes until next Christmas. Bags of discarded giftwrap and packaging are sorted to be recycled or trashed. It’s out with the old and in with the new. A fresh year is upon us, and it is time to get on with the business at hand.
There is something very satisfying about decluttering and streamlining. But sometimes in our zeal we can make the mistake of throwing treasures out with the trash. Sometimes what is lost is not a big deal. At other times our losses are irrevocable and heartbreaking.
I was once given a beautiful pair of antique cameo earrings by a friend who was deeply touched by our family’s care for her in a time of need. With tears in her eyes, she pressed the small, but priceless gift into my hands and told me that the exquisitely hand carved earrings had belonged to her English grandmother and were an heirloom that had been in the family for over 100 years.
One day, when I was wearing the earrings, one of the fine gold clasps broke. Being a woman of action, I immediately drove to the jewelry store to drop them off for repair. However, being Monday, the store was closed. Sitting in my car, I carefully wrapped the earrings in a tissue and placed them in the ashtray with the intention of returning the next day to drop them off. A few months later, when I couldn’t find my beloved earrings, I suddenly remembered where I had left them. But when I went to retrieve them, I was devastated to discover that in cleaning out my car some weeks prior, I had inadvertently thrown out the tissue along with the treasure tucked within. My delay and subsequent distraction resulted in a heart wrenching, irreplaceable loss.
We live in a culture where many things have seemingly become disposable – material items, relationships, morals. If we don’t like someone or something, we can just rewrite the script, cutting out altogether that which is inconvenient or offensive. However, when we start moving the goal posts and changing the standard by which we gauge ourselves, we run the risk of obscuring that which is precious and jettisoning it along with that which is not.
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” The Bible is God’s Word given to us for wisdom, comfort, guidance, and strength. When we heed its message, it brings us into relationship with the Divine Author.
In Matthew 14:44-46, Jesus told this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Jesus Christ is that pearl of great price, that treasure hidden in plain sight, and He exhorts us to invest everything we have and are into “owning” Him – knowing Him and loving Him, for ourselves. Everything else pales in comparison.
Jesus was explicitly clear about what is important in this life. He countered the lies and temptation of Satan with these words: “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’”
In these days where truth has been deemed relative or has been so twisted as to become unrecognizable, we need to hear Christ’s clarion call, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”