'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' - The Bible, Matthew chapter 6, verse 21
I read these words this morning.
They are not new. They are Sunday School verses, these ones. Drilled into a good Christian kid. Repeated, reminded and diligently studied as an adult.
But this morning they felt new.
This morning they stood up quietly. Humbly. Like the child outside the principal's office, best work in hand, waiting for the prized Gold Sticker of recognition.
This morning they spoke into the tumbled up space of my Greater Sydney Lockdown.
Without blame or accusation they gently nudged my spirit and asked: Where is your treasure today?
And I came up blank.
I know where it should be.
But have you noticed how lockdown shakes our priorities from the neatly arranged agendas we've set in place and tips everything out on the floor?
Our angst and worry, our frustration and boredom, they all reveal how we've propped our good and Godly sounding treasures with a plethora of other good and busy occupations. When it comes to weighing the daily 'I wish I could.... but lockdown won't let me' complaint against the the immovability of the gospel, we realise something. And it's not that startling, really. Somehow, in all the comfortable spaces we've lived in before now, we have unconsciously, thoughtlessly - accidentally even - replaced the treasures of Christ with lesser shiny things. And our hearts are struggling.
Our hearts were meant to beat in time with that of the Almighty God. Our hearts were meant to seek and love and be sought and loved by Him. Our hearts were meant to walk in adventurous trust in His Spirit and His Son. This is where our heart longs to be.
Lockdown strips back the clutter. It turns down the noise - if we let it - and our hearts are shown to beat for the treasures we've collected, whatever they may be.
Where is your treasure today?
The question remains hanging and my heart nudges me to respond. I wonder whether I'll let these words into my lockdown, offer them a seat and give them that Gold Sticker for work well done?
There are some parts of the Bible that I read without much self-confidence. The book of Isaiah is one of these. You see, I’m not a seasoned Biblical scholar. I’m not well studied in ancient prophecies and their modern interpretations. I am keenly aware that the context and content of this part of Scripture is more about Israel, than about me. But even with all these disclaimers, there is something huge and wonderful about reading these old, old words. Isaiah speaks in riddles and rhyme. It points to the future and the past. Familiar phrases leap out from paragraphs of seemingly distant description. And amongst it all, the majesty, humility, incarnational mystery of Christ comes calling out with such accuracy my heart threatens to break.
And I think this is why I love the Bible so much. Because it’s not just a ‘here and now’ text. It’s a ‘then’ and ‘what’s next’ and ‘despite it all’ type story. Even in passages I approach like a foreigner I can see the character of God burst and whisper and weave an invitation to something more.
Like today, nestled between a tricky description of judgement and salvation, I found this verse: ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still a blessing in it,’ so will I do on behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all.’ Isaiah 65:8
And I’m caught again. Can you see it? The tenderness of God’s compassion? Yes, his holiness demands a response from us. Yes, it exposes our best efforts as feeble flapping. And yes – if we are honest enough, we know we have fallen short in so many ways on so many days we deserve more than we get. But the character of God isn’t one of ‘measure up or get out’. It’s incredibly kind. He sees the struggle in our hearts. He knows what we’re up against. And he reaches out to us, sees the blessing still in us and instead of destruction he draws us to himself over, and over, and over again.
NOTE: Think about such things is a new series of posts I'll be writing and sharing on The Penny Drops. They'll be more reflective than newsworthy, as I ponder and marvel at the grace and wonder of God.
In the middle of a Greater Sydney lockdown, my newest picture book was released!
The book is called One Potoroo: A story of survival and tells the story of one of the last remaining Gilbert's potoroos at Two Peoples Bay, Western Australia.
This book is SO beautiful!
The illustrator is Alicia Rogerson. You can read more about her work on this book here, or visit her website to see some of her time-lapse videos of work on One Potoroo.
The book is published by CSIRO Publishing and is available for purchase now.
(To buy author signed copies, go here.)
In high school I used to call them 'thinks' - little bits of writing about whatever topic or issue I was mulling over at the time. These days I probably call them journal entries, or blog posts. Whatever the name, here's some of what I get when the penny drops, or doesn't, and I sit down to write...