Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
– Matthew 6:20-21
My family lives in a typical suburban community nestled within the foothills of a small rural community. Typically, not much takes place in our quiet neck of the woods, but from late October thru the new year, it is bustling with jovial visitors who come to see the lights. A few years ago one of our neighbors around the block began putting his talents to constructing a holiday light show for passers by to enjoy. It evolved over the years to include both Halloween and Christmas as well as synchronized music and lights within a network of over 15 homes. The display has delighted hundreds every year and continues to grow in reputation, so that folks from surrounding communities drive the distance to come see the famous synchronized lights. What a beautiful gift to share with others, delivering joy throughout the holidays!
It was two weeks before Christmas and the neighborhood was abuzz and aglow. A typical school day morning, I was rushing my daughter out to the car, but when I opened the passenger door I noticed things looked out of place. Books in the backseat pockets were strewn on the floor, the glove box was open with contents lying haphazardly on the seat. Suspicious, I checked the back hatch of the trunk. It was ajar. Items in the trunk were loosely laying about and out of order. Only one item was stolen, of little importance or value, but an icky feeling of violation sent shivers through my body. Someone must have gotten into my car during the evening as pedestrians strolled through the neighborhood to view the lights. I had been robbed.
As I followed through the necessary steps with the Sheriff’s Department, in speaking with the officer who wrote up the incident, she asked me if there were any signs of forced entry. I realized that the previous evening I had forgotten to lock the car doors. Then she asked if I would like to report anything stolen. I thought for a second about the value of the item taken and realized it was of no importance. The officer handed me her card and a report number for the incident.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.
– Proverbs 4:23 (WEB)
Reflecting on this simple violation, I learned an important lesson about the heart. It is true as the scripture says that we must count our trials as an opportunity to produce joy (James 1:2-3
). Yet as I became aware, when basking in joy it is also an opportunity for the enemy to prey on my bliss and catch me unaware. By neglecting to lock my car the night before, I had given the culprit an open door to take anything within my vehicle.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
– John 10:10
Incidentally, it was a month later that I began to write this post and all these truths would be tested again. The morning began in strife with my little girl, then an outing that began as a joyous occasion ended in injury and disappointment, and at the end of the day I was confronted with the choice to either become bitter or to respond in grace. That evening I plopped down onto pillows on my bed and prayed. If I had begun the day in prayer, guarding my heart against the wiles of the devil, maybe then I wouldn’t have been so surprised when the thief came knocking.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
— Phillipians 4:6-7
Ann Voskamp writes about the fullest lift by counting blessings because it is the focused gift of gratitude which practices building a treasury of heavenly trust. Investing in faith on the quiet days when nothing much seems to be happening is the best time to begin counting graces and storing up treasures from heaven. Because soon, the Bible teaches, we will have troubles of various kinds, the storm will arrive, and the bank of our heart will be overwhelmed. But with the investment of trust, you have a storehouse of faith which God may use to multiply using His resources and enable you to stand firm. This will keep you in His peace no matter the storm.
Every time you affirm your trust in Me, you put a coin into My treasury. Thus you build up equity in preparation for days of trouble…The more you trust me the more I empower you to do…Store up for yourself treasure in heaven, through placing your trust in Me. This practice will keep you in My Peace (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling).
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
– Isaiah 26:3
We will face seasons of trials in this life. Job walked the journey of affliction to learn that God is very big. Jesus told us not to be surprised by trials because He is with us. James wrote about considering our trials an opportunity for great joy. Therefore guard your heart. Don’t give the devil an open door to come in and steal your joy. Count daily graces so that on the day of the storm you will be ready to stand firm. Fill the storehouse of your heart with the grace that God supplies and then let it overflow into the lives of others.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
– Phillipians 4:19