It was an unusually warm winter day, and I had taken the day off. My plan was to engage in some needed inside activity. Then I saw the weather report. 50 degrees? On a December day? Since it had been a pretty busy fall, we hadn’t finished the leaf blowing, and the flower beds and the driveway were still littered with remnants of the several large trees which surround our home. I changed plans and decided to tend to this important outdoor work before the winter snows arrived and we were shoveling leaf-filled snow.
I donned my work clothes and headed for the garage. I wasn’t sure where my work boots were, but I quickly saw my husband Mark’s boots and decided to wear his. (Just so you know, he has pretty small feet so this wasn’t a big deal.) I laughed to myself as I slipped them on, for he used to keep these boots out in our “barn,” a detached second garage that we own. The boots are now in the house garage in order to keep the mice out of them, but I heeded his counsel to take a moment and turn them upside down – just to make sure!
I now gathered my tools - extension cords, rake, gloves, garden cart, and, of course, the leaf blower. I dragged everything to the front yard to begin my work and was startled to find sunflower seeds drop from the end of the leaf blower. When I turned it on, seeds blew across the front yard. I guess a good mouse will always find a place to store his treasure, even if the boots are no longer available! This got me thinking about treasures, since I often do a lot of thinking when I’m doing mindless work – like blowing thousands of leaves down the driveway for several hours.
I reflected upon the fact it had just been the twentieth anniversary of a fire that destroyed almost all of our family’s possessions. We were in between homes and everything was in storage at a facility that burned to the ground Thanksgiving weekend in 1998. We had been out of town, so we hadn’t heard about the massive blaze that had taken place while we were away. We returned late Saturday evening and went to church the next morning. Friends mentioned the fire and that afternoon Mark called the owner who confirmed with tears, “You gave us everything you had, and there is nothing left.”
The next day, I traveled to the storage facility, and the owner was right. I saw only remnants of things that confirmed the location of what had been our worldly goods: scraps of wood that used to be our furniture, a massive wad of colored plastic (our daughter Kirby’s Lego collection!), the springs from a mattress foundation, an ironing board, and a few other odds and ends. If you’ve never thought about it, nearly everything you own can be destroyed by fire. Humorously, I also found cooked pasta from the water and the heat. Another interesting find among the rubble was a mostly intact Bible, which ultimately succumbed to the water damage.
The first comment I remember our then nine-year-old daughter making after the fire was, “Well, we’re not supposed to store up treasures on earth.” Exactly. And while the fire was surely a trial, we lost no eternal treasures that day. We had lost nearly everything, but we had God’s Word, and that is everything. Without thinking, Kirby did what we all should do in the face of trials – think about the truth of God’s Word. But this can only happen as we regularly store up this Word in our hearts.
Sadly for the mouse, at some point he returned and found the empty leaf blower. All his labor storing up seeds was for nothing. But this is not true for us when we store up God’s Word in our hearts. It is always a treasure that will never leave us empty no matter the trials we face.
As we enter a new year, may you seek ways to treasure God’s Word and hide it in your heart. Then you will have a rich treasure to draw upon in times of trial. Romans 15:4 reminds us, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Treasure God’s Word. Hide it in your heart. It is eternal and can never be taken away. “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life” (Deut. 32:47).