Aug 072012

TreasureChestWhen we think of buried treasure, our mind most often conjures pictures of finding precious metals or jewels that have lain in wait below the ground for a wonderful discovery that makes our life richer. We dream of the pleasures we can buy with the value of such a lucky find, and we imagine the luxuries and indulgences we can afford for our enjoyment.

But not all treasures are brought forth from an underground hiding place. Sometimes it’s just the reverse. Instead, we deposit a priceless treasure below the ground, out of the reach of ourselves and others, and never again do we gain the benefits we could otherwise enjoy.

This is what happened on June 22nd. A rare jewel was hidden below the earth where we can no longer marvel at her beauty, or partake of the bounty of her generous gifts. On this day we laid to rest a 25-year-old precious woman of God who left us before we could fully appreciate this priceless treasure.

To say that such an early death was God’s plan is a lie. God knew, of course, for God knows all things. He knows the end of a thing from its beginning. But this was not God’s will. His will from the beginning was that we would live forever in paradise. That was His plan in creating a garden that was perfect, without sin, and without death. No, to lose a young woman so early, is not His will. But it is instead the result of living in a fallen world where physical death, sickness, disease, poverty, war, famine, pestilence, floods, and fire are real and present every day of our all-too-short lives.

I cried as I realized I would never again – at least not during this lifetime – speak with her, hear her sing in the choir, watch her playfully interact with the children during vacation bible school, or embrace her with a warm and heartfelt hug. During her funeral service, in the memory of my mind’s eye, I could see her excitedly swaying and clapping, singing songs of joy to worship our King. Now she has indeed traded her sorrows and laid them down for the joy of the Lord. As I write this, she is no doubt joined with the angels around the throne of grace, singing holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, while she awaits that glorious day of the second coming when she will be given her perfected body that will never again feel the sting of death.

So do I feel sorry for her? No. She is in a wonderful place.

But I do feel sorry for those of us left behind, especially for her parents who are dealing with the loss of a child and the painfully cold void her departure has left in their lives. In the life of a Christian, grief about death is not for the deceased, but it is for the survivors. Did not Paul tell us not to grieve as do the heathen without hope? He was not telling us to not grieve at all, but he was simply admonishing us to grieve in a different way. If we indeed believe that we are heaven-bound after this life is complete, why would we not be filled with joy that one of our own has already made the journey? We do rejoice for them, but it is for us who stay behind that we feel sorrow.

I’ve thought about her many, many times since that day. And remembering her fills my mind with such a variety of thoughts – far more than I can cover in a single article – so I will focus on this one key concept.

The greatest treasures the world have ever known lie buried in our cemeteries.

How many lives could have been touched? How many discoveries could have been made? How many songs could have been sung? How many books written? How many diseases cured? How many sermons could have been preached? How many lives could have been saved or made so much more worth living had those deceased treasures accomplished all they had been capable of accomplishing? Many indeed did, but the majority did not.

So I ask you, dear friend. What gifts has our heavenly Father bestowed upon you? What callings has He placed on your life? What dreams has He given to you? Unless Jesus returns first, you and I have a date with the grave that is approaching closer and closer each day. It’s uncomfortable to realize this, but it’s the way our time here on this planet will end. The price for this wonderful gift of life we have been given will ultimately be paid for with a death to complete the transaction. And what we do here on earth will decide the reward we receive in heaven. It has been said that life is our gift from God. What we do with it is our gift to God. Are you giving Him a worthy gift? I hope so but, at least in my case, I fear I am not.

The army says to be all that you can be; God says to be all He’s called us to be. Are you everything God says you are? Are you obedient to the tasks He has given you to do? Are you fully developing the gifts He has given you? If not, when will you? If you are waiting, when will you start and what are you waiting for? Will you have time to finish before the clock stops ticking?

A lovely young woman has left this earthy realm, and her shell has become buried treasure below the earth. We cannot possibly know if she fully accomplished all she was sent here to do. Whether she did or whether she did not, her race is over and her reward is forever settled in heaven, to be determined when the seals are broken and the King of Kings reads from the Book of Life and from the Book of Deeds. But in one personally important way, her work here continues. She is an incredible inspiration to me, giving an urgency to do more than I’ve ever done before. I pray this inspires you to do the same.

Tabetha, I thank you for the life you lived and for allowing me to share a small part of it. I, like many others, love you and miss you so very much.

You are a precious buried treasure…


Dec 212010

I didn’t write this, and wish I could credit the original author. It is quite good, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s Winter Pageant. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his Teacher, and she assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor.

Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row – center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.” The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”. The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

“C H R I S T  W A S  L O V E”

And, I believe, He still is. Amazed in His presence….humbled by His love.

Again, HAVE A BLESSED HOLIDAY SEASON. Merry Christmas Everyone!