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Monday, January 16, 2017

Renovation 101

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT)
Where are your treasures? What is it you treasure most in life? If you were to look around your home today, what one thing would you say means the most to you? Although I have all kinds of things I have acquired from friends, family, and special finds down through the years, I'd have to say none of those really are my treasures. In fact, I'd probably say the only true treasures I have are those who fill the house with me - my family. Jesus never had much in the way of earthly wealth from what we can see recounted in scripture. He probably came from a "run-of-the-mill", working class family - regular home, furnishings, and the like. He didn't dress opulently, nor did he have countless herds or flocks that would have made him the wealthiest man in town. He DID surround himself with people - those whose lives enriched his and whose needs tugged at his heart.
My pastor often reminds us of the importance of focus - for what we focus upon will the very thing we spend all of our time moving toward. When our treasures are things, wealth, or career, our friends and family will suffer. We just cannot focus on so much and expect all of the things or relationships to remain constant. Something will always take backseat. This is why Jesus reminds us to get our focus right in the first place - so whatever gravitates to the backseat isn't going to interfere with what needs to be front and center in our lives. The things we give our attention to will eventually flourish - maybe not at first, but in the long run they will begin to show deep signs of growth and development.
We live in a time when it is easy to get distracted by the things all around us and totally miss the tremendous blessing we have right in front of us. Family and friends are often put into the backseat in our pursuit of something "more important", but I'd have to challenge us on that focus. There is nothing more important than the relationships we have been given. Yes, we have been given these blessings - we didn't earn them, buy them, or create them. They were divinely provided and the need to be divinely maintained! Jobs can be lost and found - the blessings we are given in each other, once lost, are hard to rebuild! I have seen people lose it all in light of how the world sees them - career, financial security, and even their homes. Yet, they stand strong, vibrant, and totally resilient because they don't stand alone - they have family and friends at their side.
I don't know how Jesus does it, but when we put him first (as our primary focus), he helps us maintain balance in our relationships and somehow it works. It isn't a "divided focus", but it is the ability to focus on what matters most that Jesus is after in our lives. Why? So our hearts won't steer us toward things that don't really provide fulfillment. Have I always had the right focus in life? No! Have I always kept the right priority to things in terms of family and career? No! Was Jesus able to restore what I lost in that time when I got my focus wrong? Yes, but it the work of restoration almost always comes at a higher cost than we might imagine. If you have ever thought about doing a little restoration work in your home you know what happens. At first, it looks simply like we are going to remove the old and put in the new. In actuality, when we remove the old, there are multiplied "unknown" issues that arise. What was neglected for so long created an abundance of unrecognized issues that we now have to deal with. What was going to be a "short" renovation process becomes a major "redo"! It would be much better to have been paying attention all along, working diligently to keep things in order. Just sayin!