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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Treasure Hunt

In December 07 I delivered a sermon on the wonder I felt at reading the Bible for the first time at age 15. I had just gotten a 70's-looking New Testament and quickly landed on Matthew 6. The wisdom and depth of the words stunned me. I had had no idea that the Bible could actually speak to me about the daily details of my life. I have never been the same since.

I came to that same section this morning, not thinking about that time in 1976. Nevertheless, the section still blew me away - and best of all, in a very different sense. Back then, my problems were very real to me - parents, friends, boys, peer pressure, fitting in. Today in 2009, my thoughts seem more adult (and boring?), fixed on mortgage, pension plans, health insurance, career...

I picked up Eugene Peterson's The Message, coffee in hand. Soon I rejoiced in these poignant words. Please get comfortable. Take a deep breath. Invite the Holy Spirit to use a phrase or a section to take you where you need to go. Ignore my questions if they distract. The bolding is what spoke to me. I kept that formatting in there just to give you a sense of where I am these days: grateful, settled, praying with open hands - but still rehearsing the basics. Shoot.

A Life of God-Worship
19-21"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

22-23"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

24"You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both.

25-26"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Like me, you may need to read this more than once.

If I admit what I think about the most, then I know where my treasure is. Where is yours?

Are you fussing about what food is on your table, or what clothes are in your closet? If not clothes or food, are you fussing about other material possessions? What would it mean for you to take a season off from acquiring anything?

In America, our first question when we meet someone is "What is your name?"

Invariably, our second question usually is, "What do you do?" We tend to define identity by name and occupation. When it comes down to it, who are you? How can you "unfetter" yourself from your job description?

My favorite line from today's section is Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now... What is he doing in your life? Share it with someone today.

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