“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20, NIV).
The other day, my mom made a fun discovery. She found a long letter that I had written to her from Botswana, Africa in 1995. I was nineteen years old, on a two-month missions trip with Teen Mania, accompanied by my sister. Mom took a picture of the letter and sent it to me. Reading it, I soon was lost in memories.
On that trip, I had gotten so sick that I could barely sit up. Having contracted a lung infection, I had to stay behind as my team went off for a week into the bush, including my sister. Cared for by a missionary family I had never met before, I was profoundly lonely, on the other side of the world from home. To make matters worse, for days the local hospital could not figure out what was wrong with me. As He always has, however, God brought me through it. And in the midst of it all, I experienced Him working. The following is a little snippet of the letter, describing what He was up to. This picks up where I was describing one of my trips to the hospital:
“I kept talking to the nurse after that. She told me her name, which means ‘Condolences’ or something like that in Setswana. She asked if I worked and why I was here. So I told her about Teen Mania. I asked her if she’d heard of Jesus, and she said yes. I asked her what she’d heard and then explained about the personal relationship God wanted to have with her. I asked her if she wanted to pray and accept Jesus, she asked me a few more questions, and then she said, ‘Okay, let’s pray.’ It was so neat!
“One of the things she asked me was how she should live after she gave her life to Jesus. I told her about talking with God, reading the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, and going to church. She is going to come see me at the School tomorrow. I gave her a slip of paper with my name, and she asked me to put some Bible verses on it for her to read. She wants to see me on a regular basis before I leave. I told her I think God had me stay here this week so I could meet her.”
The letter went on the describe fascinating details like hippos along the banks of a river right next to our camp, the military tents we were staying in, the drought going on at the time, and everyday details of missionary life. However, as I read, none of them stuck out to me as much as the story about the nurse did. Surprisingly, I honestly don’t remember that experience at all, not even after reading my own description of it. As I digested it, I heard Holy Spirit speaking to my heart once again.
This is basically the essence of what He said: “This was one solitary incident in a succession of many, many others. You have been serving Me since you were small. There are so many things that you don’t even remember right now, and each one has been stored up in heaven as treasure. Rejoice in a life invested in eternal riches. Your journey has been very precious to Me!”
I could feel His delight in my joy over one soul turning to Him. I could feel His rejoicing in what beauty He brought out of the circumstance of my illness… and in my heart posture willing to see it that way with Him. How He celebrates every step of our way! If you have been pouring yourself out to Him, He wants you, too, to know how delighted He is in you. He sees every sacrifice of yours. Every one is written down in His book, and your reward is GREAT!
To tie this up, I believe that today He is inviting us to pause and meditate on how we are investing our days. Are we sowing each one as a seed, unto the Spirit? Where are we storing up our treasures?
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21, NIV).
Have you been on a missions trip? If so, do you have any memories that stick out as formative from that experience?