It was my first day moving back onboard the missions ship Doulos after she had undergone the annual drydock (maintenance work in the shipyard). Nearing my cabin, I was surprised to see the carpet all wet, and a big floor fan was noisily blowing towards my cabin door which was wide open. A crew member broke the news, “Five days ago, one of the seawater pipes had burst, and your cabin was flooded.”
I went towards the cardboard boxes tucked neatly underneath my bed. They contained some of my precious things which I had stored away carefully before vacating my cabin for drydock preparations, but now they were soaked. I opened the soggy boxes, picking out the items one after another, trying to save as many as I could. But my “earthly treasures” were disintegrating and they stank badly.
I lost half my belongings to the flood, including the Swiss army knife given to me by a friend as it corroded. I also lost some new books; they were “fattened” up with seawater and the pages stuck to each other. The mobile phone was a goner. My favourite white dress was now yellow, and my pants had turned mouldy. So off they went into the rubbish pile.
As I dragged the black trash bag filled with “earthly treasures” out of my cabin and into the bin, even though I was still in shock, I didn’t feel angry nor terribly upset. Peace filled my heart as Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19–21 came to mind: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures 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.”
As 2019 begins, this may be a time when some of us are making new year resolutions or looking forward to a fresh start. But before we rush into the new year, why not consider taking a step back and reflecting on our plans and dreams for 2019: What kind of treasures are we storing? What’s motivating us to pursue certain “earthly treasures” and what is the purpose? Are our goals and plans driven by immediate wants, FOMO or YOLO mindsets which tend to revolve around ourselves? Or are we storing “heavenly treasures”, motivated by a desire to honour God and live well in His eyes?
Even though it’s not easy, may we cling to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:19–21, which sheds wisdom on how to live well, to view things beyond the “here and now” and the “earthly treasures” that sparkle, so that we can pursue God’s ways and store treasures in heaven. From an eternal perspective, we can choose to act accordingly: not to focus on accumulating temporal things or achieving self-made goals, but to remember the big picture, which is to live a life that pleases our Heavenly Father. That is true wisdom and living wisely.