She dropped them one at a time into my hand, silver clinking against silver. It was my three-dollar payment for tending to Mrs. Peterson’s yard, and at age 11, it was more money than I’d ever imagined. I took those coins, went straight to my room, found the cigar box I kept hidden in the closet, and placed my silver dollars in it. I made my way to the bathroom, and while cleaning up, I considered the weight of those silver dollars how good they’d felt in my hand. When I was finished, I went back to my room and rolled them around in my hands again. Mom called for supper, and ravished as I was, I hid the coins away and went to the table. I scarfed the food, excused myself, and went back to that old cigar box. The silver seemed to call me.
I mowed two more lawns that week, and a few the following. Each time I was paid in dollar bills, and after weeks of badgering my mother, I persuaded her to drive me to the bank to exchange them for silver dollars. I walked out of the bank feeling like a better man simply from the weightiness of the cloth bag of silver dollars, and that’s when my focus shifted. No longer did I want to make a few extra dollars so that I could hang out with my friends at the local burger shack. Instead, I wanted to grow my business so I could fill my treasure chest to overflowing.
In my teenage years, I chased silver along with other earthly treasures — the opinion of important people, success on the football field, the attention of Margaret Hill. In my adult years, I kept on chasing — a good job, a home Margaret (by then, my wife) could be proud of, status in the community and church. None of these things were bad per se, but these treasures so often competed with God for the space in my heart. I just didn’t see it then.
Jesus knew the effects of divided heart. He knew we could be possessed and animated by treasures. Perhaps that’s why he taught,
where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Matthew 6:21
And it was this wisdom that answered the rich young ruler’s question in Luke 18,
what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
Sell all his possessions, Jesus said, and give to the poor. Why such drastic measures?
Because Jesus knew a divided heart when he saw one.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that Christ wants whole-hearted devotion, devotion willing to give up everything for the sake of knowing Christ and serving others. I didn’t learn this lesson the easy way, though. In a doctor’s office in Dallas, I was told ALS would rob my mobility, my breath, and ultimately my life. In the bleak reality of that moment, God showed me just how divided my life had become, how much I’d worked for the treasures of earth. And because I thought I’d only live a few years after that diagnosis, I committed those years to whole-hearted living with God.
That was eighteen years ago, and even as I’ve lost the ability to walk, hold Margaret’s hand, and throw the ball with my grandkids, I’ve gained an understanding of what it means to walk with Christ who makes His home in the wholly-dedicated heart. I’ve learned what it means to find true life with Christ, even staring down certain death. And I wouldn’t trade that for all the silver dollars in the world.
Written for Devotionals Daily by John Paine, author of The Luckiest Man, copyright John R. Paine.
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Take a moment today and ask yourself where your treasure is. What is the focus of your heart? Are you living whole-hearted for Jesus? Come share what the Lord is telling you on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily