Does life sometimes come at you all at once? Have you experienced life at that breakneck pace that steals your focus? Where you are mesmerized by the dizzying spin of life’s compass?
Not even two months after we had lost our seventeen-year-old daughter, Brooke, life was happening at a rapid-fire pace. Within days of the accident, we received confirming news that we would be relocating from Louisiana to Minnesota. Our home sold quickly. This was truly a blessing under the circumstances, but it felt like a curse at the time. The new owners were taking possession in less than a month. Understandable – but why so soon?
It was just much too soon for me. Life was coming at me all at once.
One afternoon, I entered Brooke’s room to do the unimaginable – box her things. I wasn’t prepared for the task, as if one could be. I had no choice. Life was on a relentless pace.
Sitting on her bedroom floor, my heart broke anew as I surveyed the room. As I gazed upward, a small, cardboard box at the top of her closet caught my eye. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the box. Designed to store photographs, it had a shoe-box-style, lift-off lid and was covered in a cute, black and white pattern. Quite unassuming.
Its contents, however, turned out to be quite extraordinary.
Brooke had ridden horses since about age eight and had saved nearly every number that she had worn over almost ten years of competition. But there was more. Stubs from concerts and music festivals. Confetti caught at One Direction concerts and stored in little plastic baggies. Photographs, notes, drawings, and greeting cards from family members and childhood friends.
There was a class project saved from middle school where each student was instructed to write something nice about each of the other students in the class. The notes were written on sticky labels that the teacher affixed to a sheet for each student to keep – “TBH Brooke you are pretty,” “Brooke you are good horse rider,” and so on. Affirmative reminders of a life cut short mounted on a sheet of orange construction paper for the rest of time.
In sum, that one small box contained my daughter’s prized possessions. More importantly, each one of those treasures revealed a little something about her heart.
My heart was being ripped apart as hers was being laid bare before me. The little things really are the big things. And, there they were tucked safely into a small box. What a precious gift to glimpse inside her heart. God opened Brooke’s heart to me in ways that she had kept guarded in life. Our treasures reveal our hearts. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34.
And this is how it is with God. When we are allowed a peek inside His heart, we recognize what God holds most precious.
God provides mere foretastes of His full glory during our lives here on earth – a beautifully written poem, a perfect sunset, a new “can’t miss” series on Netflix, the smile on a loved one’s face, or a slobbery kiss from a dog. Though we only reveal hints of our own hearts to others, God’s heart is always open to us. Though we only catch wisps of God’s full majesty, what God does reveal to us should be more than sufficient to sustain us until the days of eternal glory.
Though we don’t get a full reveal, God certainly doesn’t hide from us what matters most. From Genesis to Revelation, God couldn’t be more transparent. We – YOU – are His most cherished possession. You are first and foremost on God’s heart. “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I [God] will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15.
You know the care you take with your own valued possessions. How much greater care does God then take with you – His most esteemed possession? “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30.
“O you [me] of little faith.” If God provides so fully and gloriously for all of His creatures, of which we are His most beloved, why do we allow our faith to waiver? God created a world filled with indescribable beauty but none on par with his unrivaled creation – YOU. Where there should be no room for doubt, we build entire mansions of doubt. We raze the pastures of our hearts to make room as far as the soul can see for doubt and more doubt. Where faith should be steady, we waiver.
“If I were so precious to God, then why [fill-in the blank]?” We each have a thousand and one ways how we’d complete the question. No matter how we fill in the blank, God’s answer remains constant – for He so loved the world. He created you in His own image. Of all God’s beauty, there is none more exquisite than you.
So why we can’t we see it?
Sometimes we fall for Satan’s lies. “You’re not good enough; You’re not smart enough; and Doggone it, people don’t like you.” We fall “victim” to the consequences of our own choices and want to blame God for “doing us wrong.” And then, there are times when we get caught up – by no fault of our own – in the consequences of another’s choices – be they deliberate or careless. Stuff just happens. Our eyes shut down to the splendor of God. We pull the veil over our hearts. We are blinded to God’s heart laid out before us.
Yet, this is exactly when we must force our gaze upward where our eyes will once again land upon that “box of treasures” that God has tucked away at the top of His closet. Even – especially – when our hearts are being ripped apart, He is laying Himself bare before us. Precisely when it feels as if our worlds are falling apart, God reveals His love and mercy – comfort from family and friends in a time of need, a word of inspiration in your Facebook feed that seems a little too coincidental, support from an unexpected source. If we fail to gaze upward, we’ll miss these reassurances. We’ll miss the hope.