"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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
Recently, a terrible thing happened to my parents.
In the early morning hours, three teenage boys kicked in their front door and robbed them at gun point.
My parents, thankfully, were unharmed, but it was a horrifying experience which had us all shaken up for several weeks.
(The boys have been caught. A case is being prepared against them and my parents have had some of their possessions returned to them.)
On the horrible day after, when my parents related the full story to me, they said they remembered the boys repeating over and over to each other and to my parents one question, "Where's the stuff?"
My parents said it was as if they expected there to be so much more.
It's led us to speculate that perhaps they got the wrong house.
Perhaps they were looking for a drug house. Perhaps they expected my parents' home to be filled with expensive gadgets and jewelry and trinkets they could sell and make a load of cash on.
But when they asked "Where's the stuff?", my parents had no answer for them.
My parents are by no means without possessions and physical treasures, but they've never been ones to have all the latest gadgets.
The gadgets they do buy are not the latest models and usually not the best selling brand. Their fine jewelry? Their wedding rings and a few heirlooms.
Mom and Dad's home is filled with modest things which bring them joy and remind them of the things they love most - my father's lighthouse collection, my mother's angel collection, family pictures, books and music and movies. These are the possessions they have because they remind them of the things they love, the things they believe, the things they treasure.
So when the thieves came to break in and steal, they didn't find what they were looking for.
Sure they took the TV, my dad's guitar and even the microwave, but they didn't find much of earthly value.
It must have been a bit of a disappointment.
These boys had no way of knowing my parent's stuff isn't earthly but heavenly.
After the thieves were caught, my parents received a letter from the district attorney's office asking them if they wanted to have future contact with the boys. They said yes.
Yes, if possible, they want to meet them. They want to know them, they want to have a chance to speak good into their lives - to forgive, to love, to tell them about the heavenly stuff they could not steal.
Everything we fill up our lives with. Everything we purchase. Everything we build up. It can all be taken away in an instance - even with our rust proof, moth proof modern products. Nothing lasts. Everything ends up at best in the recycling bin, at worst in the landfill.
What truly matters is faith, hope and love.
What matters is what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable - anything excellent or praiseworthy.
This is treasure which does not fade away, which cannot be stolen, which cannot be ruined. This is lasting treasure.
I am forever grateful my parents are essentially unharmed. I am forever grateful for whatever providence, hedge of protection or guardian angel God placed around them.
I am thankful the thieves were caught.
I am thankful they will have to make answer for their crimes in a court of law.
I am thankful for my parents who can see beyond themselves and the pain which was inflicted upon them to see three boys who need love and forgiveness.
I am thankful for the freedom found in forgiveness.
And I am thankful for a Jesus who teaches us to store up our treasures in heaven.