All these toys were never intended to possess my heart . . . my true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ.
— C. S. Lewis
I recently had dinner with a dear friend I’ve known for more than 30 years. The last couple of years have not been kind to her. I won’t divulge her personal troubles specifically except to say that she is now divorced and raising a child as a single mother.
But this woman is a woman of strength, dignity, and faith. And when she was at her lowest point during this horrifically painful time, she said God kept prodding her with one question: “What is your treasure?”
Interesting. Because His question for me has been, “what is your idol?”
I started thinking about that. What’s the difference between a treasure and an idol? Both can be hidden. Both can be fed or starved. Both can consume us. Both can hold our hearts.
My writing was an idol. As I mentioned, God had to pry it from my hands. I had to humble myself and bow before Him again, not before the altar of my fictional worlds.
When we’re consumed by idolatry, we perhaps don’t have room to treasure anything. I didn’t treasure my family. I didn’t treasure my friendships. I certain didn’t treasure my Lord. The idol consumed my vision. It prevented me from seeing anything else.
A treasure, on the other hand . . .
I struggle with how to follow this analogy. I keep coming back to the idea of a retirement account.
Bear with me for a minute here.
A retirement account is, in many ways, a treasure on earth. We feed it. We manage it. We check it regularly. We trust that it will sustain us in our golden years. While we don’t necessarily crow about it to outsiders, we know that the treasure house is there to keep us from becoming a burden to our children.
So what do I have that can sustain me spiritually in my golden years–that is, my eternity?
Only the promise of everlasting life through the blood of Jesus.
One of the reasons many writers give for pursuing their art is the hope of some kind of immortality. There is something immortal about the written word. Writers hope that our words will be read in the future. We put down our words in active trust that someone, somewhere, sometime will find those words compelling, artistic, meaningful.
But if this has been my treasure, I have striven in vain.
Words are no more immortal than those dollars and cents we’ve invested in that retirement account. I can’t take ’em with me.
I am convicted that there is only one treasure I should be feeding–the One that can sustain me for eternity.
Does this mean that writing is sinful? No, of course not. But counting on it to sustain me eternally? That is the sin. I would never consider that retirement account adequate to sustain me for eternity. I know I can’t “take it with me.” But I have certainly considered my writing eternal in some measure. I have counted on it to give me some measure of immortality.
I have idolized my writing.
And herein lies my difficulty.
Christ longs to be the treasure I feed, the account I check, the hope I rely on for everlasting life.
I have been so foolish. I have idolized an art–something temporary and fleeting. I have neglected the real treasure–the One who bled and died to give me everlasting life.
I treasured my writing to the point that it became an idol. But the thing about treasuring Christ is that He is the One and Only Thing worth treasuring. And when we treasure Him, it spills over into everything else–writing included.
“My hope is built on nothing less/than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” the song says.
My idol was my writing.
My treasure is my Lord.
Till next we meet . . .