I’ve really enjoyed watching the two National Treasure films starring Nicholas Cage as treasure hunter Ben Gates. I hope there will be a third.
In both films, most of the people Ben Gates encounters do not believe the treasure exists. He’s wasting his time chasing a fantasy, a myth, a dream. It’s just wishful thinking.
However, Ben is totally committed to the search and when he finds the treasure in each case (hope I’m not giving the story away here!), all the personal sacrifice, the dangers faced and trouble taken has been worth it.
It’s these films I thought of this week when I read the Ash Wednesday gospel reading:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth …. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6: 19-21
I’m wondering what it means to store up treasure in heaven. It seems to be the opposite of storing up money or goods in this life. We are to have generous hearts, ready to give our time and money to others. We are to avoid being enslaved by the desire for material things and allow only God to be our master. Wealth itself is not a problem, it is an opportunity to help others. But it comes with a kingdom health warning: desiring it can seriously damage your spiritual health.
Lent is a time to acknowledge our failings, find forgiveness and rediscover our freedom: particularly from selfishness and the unhealthy desires which threaten to control our behaviour. For that we need God’s help, including his gift of the people who are alongside us, loving us, challenging us and praying for us. God will never enslave us, so we constantly have to offer ourselves in his service. This is the burden of freedom.
Treasure in heaven is not a myth or a fantasy. The inheritance of the saints in glory is the only treasure worth living for. To have this blessed assurance is to live in the knowledge that all the sacrifices made, and the risks taken in the service of God and neighbour, will one day be seen to have been worth it. Super-abundantly worth it.
Wishing you every blessing as we prepare to celebrate the awesome Easter mysteries of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.