Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Psalms 119:161 – 168 (NIV) Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word. I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands. I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.
I am not a thief. I have, however, been a safe-cracker.
In 1974, I went to work for the new owner of a grocery store. Included in the purchase of the store was a large old safe that was locked. The previous owner said he couldn’t remember the combination and if we could get into it we could have whatever was in it. I volunteered to crack the safe. I tried for a couple of hours to listen to the tumblers fall on the dial. I had seen it done that way on TV and figured it would work for me. It didn’t. It was time for demolition techniques. I didn’t have access to dynamite, so breaking through the outer shell was my next best plan.
This was a huge safe. It was 5 feet tall and three feet wide. With sledge hammer and chisel I began to slowly peel off the steel side of the safe. Underneath I found four inches of concrete reinforced with iron rebar. I smashed the concrete and cut through the rebar. Then I had to somehow get through the inner steel wall. I don’t believe that sledgehammer and pry bar had ever been used so hard. Finally, after two days of work, I broke through.
Inside we found lots of old papers and ledgers from the early days of the store. Then, tucked away in one small drawer was a little black velvet bag. Inside I found something I had never seen before – two, twenty-dollar gold pieces from the 1800’s. The boss told me I could have them for all the work I had done on the safe. I took them home and hid them in a safe place.
The next time I went to the big city I stopped and bought a coin collecting magazine to see what they were worth. I was shocked when I saw their value at over $400 each. Eight hundred dollars was a lot of money to a single guy back in those days. It would be like finding five thousand dollars today. I immediately started making plans for how I would put that money to good use.
Unfortunately, I never got to spend any of it. News travels fast in a small town. The previous owner heard about the discovery and it jogged his memory. He asked that the coins be returned. I gave them to him. But for a time, I knew what it was like to discover treasure. The thrill of finding it and owning it captivated me and dictated most of my thought process as I evaluated all the options the treasure afforded me.
I can also remember when God’s promises captivated me in the same way. Once I could relate to the words, I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil. I remember the first time I discovered some of those treasures. They would dictate all my thoughts as I evaluated all of the options those promises gave me for my life.
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. I remember the thrill it brought to my heart to know that God promised to direct every part of my life and that I could trust His control.
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. I remember the peace that came from letting God have control. I remember taking those and many more such treasures to heart and tucking them away for safe keeping.
Some days I wonder where the thrill has gone. Why have the “spoils” been spoiled? Has God asked for the treasures to be returned and they are no longer mine? Unlike the story of the gold pieces, God has not asked for the treasure to be returned. Actually, His treasures are ours forever. His promises will never be taken back.
So why are we not rejoicing over the treasure anymore? I think it’s because we locked them up for safe keeping and have forgotten the combination to the safe. They sit in the back of the store of our lives while we continue to conduct business as usual. We’re so wrapped up in doing things our way that we’ve even forgotten that the treasures of God are still in the safe.
If a young man would spend two days of hard labor cracking into a safe just for the chance to see if treasure exists, don’t you think it’s worth whatever effort you have to put forth to discover the treasures you know are in God’s Word?
And when you find them, don’t hide them. Use them. Their value can never be fully spent.