Sunday, April 11, 2010

Laying Up Treasures

These are thoughts that are related to a poem I wrote a while back*, about occupations and heaven. This was on my mind today because Adam is still looking for work, a minister of the Lord, gifted to preach, teach and comfort, and he is still looking. If you hear a little sigh in all that, you should. I visited the home of an acquaintance today, a lovely home. It reminded me of our old Victorian house in Edwards. I asked the husband how long they'd lived there -- 14 years, he said. They hadn't planned to stay so long, but they did. I smiled, and said that some of us plan to stay longer, and don't end up doing so. He said now they'll never leave. Statesville is home.

How I wish I could say such a thing, but I can't. We will move again, and maybe again after that. We will always move in search of employment, because work is hard to find for some people. Not for my friend -- he's a successful businessman with his hand in multiple enterprises. That kind of money security must be very pleasant.

And I wondered about the vocations we value. Who makes the most money, and therefore has (generally) the most job security? We all know the list: doctors, lawyers, bankers, politicians, dentists. We pay people well to come into our broken lives and fix things; mend my sick body, get me out of this legal bind, make my money grow, repeal that horrible law, straighten my kids' teeth.

And I wonder if we value most those occupations that are designated to mitigate the effects of the fall in our lives. I think we pay a lot for that.

Think of it: how much time do we spend trying very hard to make a little heaven, a little Eden, of our lives? The beautiful lawn. The comfortable, welcoming, safe home. The security of never worrying about money. The enjoyment of God's beautiful, pristine creation in places where it's not been soiled. I'm sure I could go on with that list! And this effort is a good thing; it shows that our longings are healthy and alive -- we know little bits of what heaven should be, and we want it. We want it now. We'll pay people quite a bit, just to get a watered-down taste of it.

How DO we lay up treasures for the New Earth? Jesus tells us that trying to lay up those physical treasures here is a mistake. But do we only lay up heavenly treasures with spiritual acts of goodness and kindness? Bible study? Church-going?

What WILL we do in the New Earth, and is it valuable for me to be doing those things now? Are those valuable activities? What does one do in a perfect world? Stitch up torn legs? Sue for divorce? Pull teeth? Clean up vomit from the bathroom floor? Cry about lost employment and look for work? Fear for losing a house and sock away cash? Of course not.

I'm afraid that the vocations we value on this earth, and pay so dearly for, and praise ... and envy ... will be of no value, of no significance, in the New Earth. Is it good to want our lives here to be better? To pay our bankers and doctors? Sure -- they're working hard to reverse a little of the fall in this poor world. But let's not fool ourselves into EVER thinking that their work is laying up treasures in heaven. It doesn't point us to heaven; it reminds us of hell.

I want to remember to value also the cooks, bakers, vintners, singers, dancers, growers of plants, and lovers of beauty in the world. We don't always pay them much, and work can be hard to find. But in their employments they will slip easily into that heavenly life. Perhaps that, too, is "laying up treasure."

*(Here's the poem I referred to above.)

What To Do

The lawyers, doctors, dentists
Loggers, congressmen, firemen,
Butchers, prosecutors, garbage men
Police officers, judges, air traffic controllers,
Crossing guards, wardens, janitors
And social workers, among others,
Will have nothing to do.

The bakers, however, with the painters,
Designers, writers, storytellers,
Librarians, photographers, dancers
Sculptors, musicians of all stripes, farmers,
Glass blowers, hair stylists, and all creators
Of beauty will be very busy there.

Invest wisely.

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