“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 20-21
I am very honored to share this devotion with you. It was written by my brother, Ray Merrill. Enjoy!
When I was 11, my parents used to let me and my four siblings open one Christmas present on Christmas Eve before we went to bed. That year my seven year old sister, Christine, was so excited about the gift she had purchased for me, she kept telling me how much I was going to like it. So on Christmas Eve I chose her present to open. I still remember her eyes dancing as I tore into the wrapping paper with the hope and expectancy that I was going to treasure her gift as much as she did.
Inside the outer wrapping paper I found three other small gifts each individually wrapped. I will never forget my initial puzzlement as I opened the first gift-a small hand-blown glass bird with a spring clip for its feet. Trying to make sense of it, I opened the second-a tiny cardboard house covered with green glitter with a picture of the manger scene printed inside of it. When I opened the third-a gold bird with cardboard wings-my puzzlement turned to disappointment. “What are these?” I asked her.
The joy she had felt in her choice of gifts melted away as she said, “They’re Christmas tree ornaments.”
My disappointment turned to the scorn that only an 11-year-old can have for his younger sister. “Three Christmas tree ornaments? Why did you think I would want Christmas tree ornaments?”
She looked at them, downcast that I did not treasure them as much as she did, and said meekly, “I thought they were pretty.”
How often do we look at the treasures our heavenly Father has given us and fail to understand the value that He has placed in them? Personal treasures like patience can become a burden. Kindness can be thrown back in our faces. Trust can lead to betrayal. Hope can lead to disappointment. Faith can turn to doubt. The list is much longer, yet we often fail to perceive these qualities in ourselves and in others as gifts from our Father’s heart. Yet treasures they are.
How much poorer would we be without such gifts? How empty and superficial our lives would be. God knows how important healthy relationships are, our relationships with others and our relationship with Him. If our relationships are not healthy, it doesn’t matter how much earthly treasure we have, we are not happy. God gives us gifts that matter, treasures that enrich our lives.
Those three Christmas tree ornaments that I scornfully rejected? When I got married 43 years ago, my mother gave me the two ornaments that had survived. The green glitter crèche and the gold bird with the cardboard wings are hung high on our tree every year in places of honor. And as I hang them each on a bough out of reach of my small grandchildren, I remember the joy in the eyes of my little sister Christine as she gave me treasures, which at the time I was too young to appreciate.
Prayer: My heavenly Father and my brother Jesus, you love me enough to make yourself vulnerable to me. You understand what is truly important in my life and give me gifts that in my selfishness I often overlook. Today, Lord, give me a heart to see the goodness within myself and in others and set my eyes on your heavenly gifts. Let Your Will be done in my life today. Amen
I want to thank my brother, Ray, for sharing this devotion. Ray is a retired English teacher and drama coach. He is an active church leader and has been writing inspirational poems and stories for over 45 years. The picture above shows all 5 of my siblings.