Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 13:44

'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off in his joy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

We understand nothing of this until we have known freedom of heart, the kind of freedom that stirs us to surrender ourselves, risking who we are or what we have to give ourselves to a grace and beauty we have discovered--or which has discovered us.

So much of life commences with calculated care. Closely counting costs, whether in time or money or energy, we ask if each new activity, commitment or relationship in our path is “worth it.” Do we want to spend ourselves, our precious time, or protect our resources for something later?

It’s a safe way to live, and much of our living requires such care. But there is an element of soul that cannot and will not be fulfilled, its joy stunted, until we know a beauty, a grace, a cause, a holy love to which we can give ourselves without counting the cost, our hearts knowing that this is right, this belongs to the essence of my soul and life itself.

The freest human souls I have ever known are those who had found--or been found by--the treasure in the field, the pearl of great price which moved them beyond lives of bean-counting calculation to act, to love, to given themselves to a great love even though it cost them pain, or perhaps the various currencies our society most values--money, status and power.

In this culture, we sometimes have trouble understanding those who choose to step away from high-powered posts, moneyed positions or safe, easy lives for other values, commitments and joys that are not so easily enumerated.

Jesus did, and he invites us to listen to the depth of our hearts. The key to the treasure is in the field of our souls. There is a pearl of great price hidden there that, once discovered, draws us beyond the calculated life to one of joyful freedom--and perhaps risk and pain, too, which are always part of loving.

Before I graduated seminary, I, like all ministry students of that place and age, faced a panel of faculty members who could ask anything to test our knowledge and fitness for ministry. I have forgotten all but two questions from that inquisition, and only one is perfectly clear: “What would you die for? For what are you willing to go to the wall?”

Age 27 and foolish, I muttered an absurdity about a theological doctrine with which I had recently been infatuated. I’m surprised they didn’t laugh in my face. But a few years later I met people who truly did and would go to the wall for a holy love, a cause, a person God had given them to love.

Then I knew: My seminary inquisitor had asked me to name the pearl of great price, the treasure in a field that was so essential to my soul, my heart, my love that it freed me to rise above a life of mere calculation to give my life freely in service of more than my own petty concerns.

Find your freedom, the place where you don’t count the costs, and you will know yourself, you will know God and the treasure which the Loving Mystery gives you.

Pr. David L. Miller

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