Monday, 14 January 2013
Treasures In Heaven . . .
There is something about being worried about one's own health or the health of a loved one which totally narrows our focus and brings the important things in life to the forefront with acute clarity. Life becomes more important and you begin to recognize it for the gift that it truly is. You long for the chance to make it right, and pray for the same. I believe that in a life boat . . . everyone prays . . . even those who have not considered themselves to be spiritual people, and made a mockery of those who are. What are the first couple of words to come out of the mouth when faced with annihilation, disaster . . . death . . . "Oh my God." It's true . . . think about it. Maybe not all of the time, or for all of the people . . . but I'll guarantee that it's true for most of the time and most of the people. There is a spark of recognition of the Divine in each of us . . . whether we choose to acknowledge that fact or not . . .
Money worries are completely different than health worries. They follow you around all day like a hungry dog . . . When you crawl into bed at night they hover at the end of your bed like a scary, menacing and dark shadow . . . robbing you of much needed sleep. Money worries steal the joy out of your days and turn what should be restful nights into agony . . . you can somewhat push them to the back of your mind during the daylight hours, but they leap out and poke you ever so often . . . and when dark descends and you are busy with nothing but your thoughts, they jump out to mock you. If you are not careful . . . they can cause you to throw away what is most precious . . . your time. It's suddenly spent in worry and fear . . . you cease to live, but merely exist.
When I lost my job three years ago, we were both left feeling quite devastated. I was the main bread winner. Our home and lifestyle totally depended on my employment. Our minds were left reeling. What had been totally abundant . . . was severely depleted . . . in a single instant. This is the type of feeling which caused very wealthy people to jump to their deaths during the great stock market crash at the beginning of the great depression . . . thankfully neither one of us jumped to our death. Thankfully we had more important things in our lives . . . and our total focus had not been merely on our wealth. It was hard. It still is. We had to make big changes in our lives. The first priority was finding a new place to live, and then getting there. Next thing to go was our new car. Suddenly it wasn't really important anymore, and what had been a joy became an anchor around our necks. We had to severely claw back our standard of living. I think that was the hardest thing of all, and something we still struggle with from time to time, but we are getting there slowly but surely.
Thankfully we had our faith . . . it is that and the prayerful support of our friends and family which carried us through those rough months we faced. And we were so grateful for both of those things. We were able to turn around what was a very devastating occurrence . . . and to turn it into a blessing in our lives . . . but it took months for us to do that with any clarity. I think for about the first 6 months or so we were walking about a little bit like deer in the headlights of a car about to hit them . . . blinded . . . and unfocused. But we did have our faith . . . and slowly our faith brought us around, little by little . . . to the point where we were able to see that this had actually been a blessing in our lives.
It allowed us to focus on the things in our lives which were truly important . . . and that which was most precious. Instead of feeling the lack and deprived . . . we were left feeling blessed with abundant and fulfilling lives. Money may come and go . . . but the things of the spirit, they are the one constant in our lives, and the most precious gift we are given . . . I think it was the Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who said . . . "It is easy to be independent when you've got money. But to be independent when you haven't got a thing . . . that's the Lord's test."
One thing that I learned from that whole experience was this . . . that the simpler we keep our lives . . . the more abundant they become. I think Matthew said it best of all . . .
"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through not steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth not rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." ~Matthew 6: 19-21
The abundant life is a simple life . . . and one in which you can turn dust . . . into diamonds. I never was able to find another job. The economy being such as it is, and my increasing age and arthritis have meant that I am no long able to cope with a working cook's environment, but I have been able to more fully explore my artistic talents, and Todd and I have been able to devote more time to each other, and to our service in the church and to our fellow beings. Life is good . . . very good, and I am grateful for that, and for all the joy that it brings into our lives. Lasting joy. Treasures in heaven.
Silver linings . . . seeing an good friend come back to church yesterday. My heart was filled with joy at her appearance, and it was very good to be able to reach out to her and give her a hug. I hadn't realized how much I had missed her . . . until she was there again.
A thought to carry with you through today:
“So many things beat upon us in a lifetime that simply enduring may seem almost beyond us… But the test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us.”
~Henry B Eyring
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . my food heaven and Todd's food hell . . . a Tasty Pasta Bake.
Have a great beginning to the week all!