It is interesting to think of how our notion of treasure changes during the course of our lives. When I was a child I used to think of some of my toys as treasures, especially those which I had really wanted to have and eventually received. I valued these so much that while I played with them very often, I took excellent care of them. These toys were the source of so much delight that I did not want anything to happen to them through any neglect or carelessness of mine. As I grew older my books were my treasures, and nothing gave me greater delight than to be utterly lost in a story line or narrative, whether it was fiction or nonfiction. Books were (and are) a portal to a world of imagination and learning.
However, I have come to see that my greatest treasure is God the Father, Son, and Spirit who is embodied through people, beauty, and love. Truly, God is present in many ways, but the point is that my treasure has gone from the material to what (or Who) created the material. Indeed, what I hold most dear are people, those who have blessed my life with the beauty of love and friendship. Simply put, what is from God is a treasure that is able to be found just about anywhere. Everything is a gift.
In Matthew's Gospel Jesus said: "Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." (Matt 6:21) What we value is evident in the choices we make and our treasure is where our priorities lie. But a question we should consider is this: what is God’s treasure? If it is true that our hearts are where our treasure is, what about God? Surely, it is true of God also. And what is His treasure? His treasure is us. That is where His heart has been, is, and always will be!
We would be missing something incredibly important if we did not look at the treasure of who we are. Each person is a complex, unique treasure-trove of gifts and traits. Each one has a unique call and a unique purpose in life. The problem is that it is very easy to lose sight of that, to begin to believe at some point that we have no real purpose or have nothing important to give. That thought is merely a trick of the evil one who wants us to believe it so that we do not attain the purpose for which we were created.
Our purpose is to love, serve, and know the Lord and in so doing, to help others know and love Him also. The reason for this is that God has so much love to give that He wants each of us to be able to receive it. If we are unaware that this love is offered, how can we receive it? God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to offer us redemption and eternal life with God. In other words, there is nothing we can ever do which will keep us from His love. Yet so many of us believe lies about ourselves that keep us from being the person we were created to be, which is a son or daughter of God, beloved and beautiful. We are God's treasures. We are what He wants to surround Himself with. We know this because not only did He give us the gift of life, but He has offered us the way back to Him, namely His Son, Jesus, so that we may delight in the treasure of His love and His Kingdom for all eternity.
We may think we are unworthy because of some sin we committed at some point in our lives that is so embarrassing to us that we can barely think about it. Perhaps we feel that we simply are not all that bad, but we are not all that good either. Perhaps it is that we know ourselves all too well and know about our sinful tendencies and vast areas of weakness such that the evil one uses it against us so that we are convinced that we are beyond redemption. But the Scriptures are full of examples which tell us that no matter what we have done or who we are, we are never beyond the forgiving love of the Lord. There is no "excuse" for us to believe we are beyond redemption. It simply is not true.
The story of Zacchaeus is a prime example (Luke 19): he went out of his way to get the attention of the Lord, but he already had Jesus' attention before He climbed that tree. Jesus called Him down and said He would dine with Zacchaeus that night, giving him the opportunity to repent of his greed and deceit, having truly changed his heart. There is the adulterous woman (John 8): when the ordeal of nearly getting stoned to death by the crowd was over, Jesus did not wag a finger at her or lecture her for the sins they both knew she committed. Instead He said, "Go and sin no more." His love was forgiving, which is the deepest kind of love since her sins ultimately hurt Him because they kept her from Him. Her repentance gave Him joy. Another sinner was the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4) This woman was so reviled that she had to draw water in the heat of the day when no one else would go to the well. She had to go at that time to escape the ridicule and rejection of the townspeople. She, a rejected woman, met the Rejected One there, encountering His forgiving love in the offer of a drink of what only He could offer. She accepted that love and it set her free, free enough to run back into town to the very people she had sought to avoid, proclaiming that she had met the Messiah! The most astounding part of the story is that the people believed her. She had accepted that love, and the encounter with God was imprinted upon her so that she could begin to become the person she was intended to be.
All of the people healed of sin and self-loathing in the Scriptures had an encounter with the Living God when they met Jesus. He revealed to them who they really are: His treasure. In doing so, they could accept the forgiving love He offered, which set them free to be the beautiful creation they were made to be in the first place. This is why Jesus told the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15). The shepherd left the 99 in order to rescue the one who had strayed. It is not because the 99 are unimportant to Him. No, they were already safe. It was because he loved the one who strayed, the sinner, as much as the other 99 who were already devoted to Him. Jesus said that the shepherd rejoiced so much that he called to all his neighbors saying: "Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep." He then exaggerates the point by saying: "In just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance." He is exaggerating so that we see the point which is that we are all important to God always.
In other words, we are all sinners and we all have need of repentance. But if we allow ourselves to forget that we are God's treasure and that He already knows of our sins and weaknesses yet never stops loving us, then we will indeed be lost. This is what the evil one wants. He wants us to think we are beyond redemption, but in truth, no one is beyond redemption. If we return to the Lord, ask His forgiveness, and let Him make us more whole, we will find the truth of who we are: God's treasure. The truth that Jesus wants to lead us to is to know that we are loved with a love so great that it is beyond our ability to comprehend. He wants us to be like Zacchaeus to whom He says: "Today I must stay at your house."
We are God's greatest treasure. Recently I heard a song which inspired this blog. A line in that song says: "I'm a treasure in the arms of Christ." * Perhaps when we are feeling like we are afraid to approach Jesus we should remember this line and realize that no matter who we are, what we have been told about ourselves, or what we have or have not done, we remain a treasure to Him. He wants nothing more than to hold us in His arms. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. There is no power on the earth, under the earth, or in the heavens, even our own sinfulness, which can come between us and the imperishable, unfathomable, unending love of God. (Paraphrase of Romans 8:38-39.)
May we know come to see ourselves as beloved of God, beautifully and wonderfully made! May we accept the gifts He gives us so that we may become our truest selves! May we realize and take to heart that we are God’s treasure! And may we have hearts filled with gratitude for the love He gives us which is beyond all other gifts! Let us continue to meet in the Heart of the Lord who treasures us! Peace!
* The song I mentioned is Forgiven by Sanctus Real. To hear it, click on the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZVjKrmvYYQ (Stay patient, there is an ad first.)
The two icons are by Rev. William Hart NcNichols. The first is Christ All Merciful which can be found at http://www.standreirublevicons.com/gallery-views/jesus-gallery/product/34-christ-all-merciful.
The second is San Jose Sombra del Padre and can be found at
The final image is a photo I gook while in Rome. It is of the Trinity, the God who regards us as His treasure.
© Michele L. Catanese
Heart Speaks to Heart