A few weeks ago I was at my parents’ place in Illinois, spending time with them before leaving to spend 4 months abroad.
I had a conversation with them one night about the reasons I was excited to be setting off on an adventure, and the reasons I think it’ll be hard.
“It’s like the treasure in the field,” my dad said, referencing a parable that Jesus told.
That night I climbed into bed and re-read Matthew 13:44:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
The next morning, I flew to Portland to speak at an event. While I was there, I had a get-together and said good-bye to friends that I probably won’t see until 2016.
I flew to Amsterdam, spent two days there, and then took an overnight train to Germany.
I was jet-lagged.
I didn’t have much money to spend because I won’t have an income for four months.
I schlepped my wheeled duffel bag (that has all my clothes for the next 4 months) into and out of the airport, on and off of trains, into and out of hotel elevators. I dragged it around for so long, I got knots in my neck and back.
I went to FaceTime my family and friends several times before I realized — I’m 9 hours ahead of them, so most of the time, when I want to talk with them, they’re fast asleep.
After a week of that, I started to pray, “God, I’m tired. I’m lonely. I’m miserable. I don’t know how I’m going to take four months of this.”
And then I remembered the parable of the treasure in the field. The next four months hold a great treasure — the chance to travel through Europe, to serve at a hospital in Africa, to add new stamps to my passport, to see new sites and try new foods and meet new friends. I’m SO blessed!
But instead of focusing on the treasure, I’d been focusing on the field of mud the treasure is buried in.
Is there mud in this experience? Definitely.
Is there treasure? Absolutely.
And that’s the way the next four months of my life are going to be. That’s the way most of life is, actually. Every treasure comes with an acre of mud.
We can focus on the dirt, or we can accept the dirt because the treasure it contains is worth it.
Sometimes God sells everything we have and buys the field for us.
For example, in my life, cancer was a treasure in a big ol’ field of manure that God bought for me — I didn’t have a choice. Now I own the treasure of a strong faith and a compelling story of redemption that I get to share with people around the world. But I also own a field of mud that holds scars, ten years of cancer meds, and the possibility of my disease recurring.
Sometimes it’s a choice we get to make to sell or not to sell everything in order to own the treasure.
For example, singleness is a treasure in a field. Lots of opportunities for adventure and ministry, hidden with the mud of loneliness and, sometimes, exclusion.
Marriage is a treasure in a field. Physical connection, companionship, a witness to your life….buried in the mud of conflict, sacrifice, and compromise.
Education is a treasure in a field. It offers the potential of a higher income, a steady career, and eye-opening learning experiences. But it comes with the dirt of all-nighters, Friday nights spent in the library, and big tuition bills.
Friendship is a treasure in a field.
Parenthood is a treasure in a field.
Ministry is a treasure in a field.
Almost every single facet of our lives is a treasure in a field.
If we focus on the muddy field, we’ll live in dread and depression and defeat.
If we focus on the treasure, we’ll accept the mud with joy, because the treasure is worth it.
Looking at your life, what’s your field?
What’s your treasure?
How can you accept the mud in order to receive the treasure with joy?