Wednesday, Day Three
At the beginning of a backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies, our guide had all of us stand in a circle, open our packs, and place our belongings on the ground in front of us. She then went to each of our piles and redistributed everything, making decisions for us: “You don’t need this extra sweatshirt, let’s give it to her.” I was touchy about all of this, but I never did need that sweatshirt. I was relieved of carrying unnecessary weight when climbing became strenuous. I carried only what was essential for the trip.
When life-changing, door-closing moments come into our lives (see No Matter How the Door Closes…), we are wise to take an unexpected but important inventory. What have I lost- that is, what has been taken away or left behind? What do I still have with me? And what will I need as I venture out into this new life? In taking stock of these things, we begin to discern what is essential.
What have I lost? Taking inventory of the precious things we have lost, treasures that now remain behind the closed door- whether a loved one, a special possession, a home, a vocation, our health, our way of living- gives us a chance to gratefully acknowledge the privilege we have had of loving and enjoying any of these, even for a moment. Our healing grief comes from our deep appreciation and gratitude for what has previously blessed us.
Remembering all these things, we can then ask, What remains with me from these treasures? What are the gifts I still carry with me? Our inventory might include such things as the laughter, love and spirit of our eternal, beloved ones. The gift of becoming better people from friendships once shared. The peace in knowing we will all be reunited one day. The memories of life in a previous home or place. The enjoyment of certain belongings and keepsakes that remain in our mind’s eye. The knowledge and skills we have learned from careers and experiences. The preparation and training for a yet-to-be discovered new vocation. The hope that is strengthened by faith and trust. The sense of confidence as we remember all the times God has helped us…
What will we need as we venture forth? We might feel unprepared and ill-equipped, but we still have the essentials. We have everything we need first and foremost- the spiritual treasures freely given by our generous God. God pours out peace, hope, love, joy, patience, courage, and strength in abundance. God has already gone before us into every tomorrow. God accompanies us into the future, sharing heavenly treasures each step of the way.
Jesus is so wise in telling us not to store up treasures on earth, but to seek the treasures of heaven. Not only are these the truest and best treasures, they are eternal treasures. They are always going to be with us, no matter our circumstances! The things that Jesus says are essential are also the things we will never lose… the things that were, are, and ever will be.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NRSV)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.