I recently traveled to Orlando for a conference where I spent a week with some of the loveliest people. On my way, I stopped at the airport store and bought a novel to read on the plane. I was supposed to be reading a spiritual book on being a good listener, but now and then a girl needs a good Nicolas Sparks book to pass the time on a long plane ride. LOL.
The book was about a cowboy who almost dies bull riding, and because of his injuries (and the metal plate that holds his head together) he is told he should never ride again or he will surely die. Then he meets “the girl”, but is still faced with the conundrum (can I just say that I love big words like “conundrum”?) of choosing between going against doctors orders and riding again so that he can pay off the huge medical bills and thus save the farm that had been mortgaged to pay those medical bills. But if he does that then the girl of his dreams will leave him because she can’t watch him kill himself. The alternative is to give it all up and sell the farm to be with the one he loves? OMG!….what’s a cowboy to do?
So this thread of having to sell the farm in order to get what you need the most came back to me today. This morning I was reading (again!) portions of one of my favorite books, The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen; the chapter entitled For Now, Hide Your Treasure, and it reminded me of that story line.
Here are some excerpts from that chapter:
“You have found a treasure; the treasure of God’s love. You know now where it is, but you are not yet ready to own it fully. So many attachments keep pulling you away. If you would fully own your treasure, you must hide it in the field where you found it, go off happily to sell everything you own, and then come back and buy the field.”
“Only when you have let go of everything else can the treasure be completely yours. Having found the treasure puts you on a new quest for it. The spiritual life is a long and often arduous search for what you already found.”
“Because finding the treasure is only the beginning of the search, you have to be careful. If you expose the treasure to others without fully owning it, you might harm yourself and even lose the treasure. That is why you must hide the treasure and spend your energy in selling your property so that you can buy the field where you have hidden it.”
“This is often a painful enterprise, because your sense of who you are is so intimately connected to all the things you own: success, friends, prestige, money, degrees, and so on. But you know that nothing but the treasure itself can truly satisfy you. Finding the treasure without being ready yet to fully own it will make you restless. This is the restlessness of the search for God. It is the way to holiness. It is the road to the kingdom. It is the journey to the place where you can rest.”
What do you suppose all that means? And what represents the farm in your life? What represents the field? I’d love to hear your input. For me, the “letting go” and “selling everything I own” is this process I’m in of giving up my rights; my right to be prideful, my right to be No. 1, my right to a full bank account, my right to being treated fairly, my right to have granite counter tops, my right to see my kids more often, my right to have lots of friends, my right to a nice lawn, my right to a secure retirement, the right to blah, blah, blah. Fill in the blanks. But the treasure I’m finding in the exchange is worth far more than any of those things.
For you it might be the right to a happy marriage, the right to drive a nice car, the right to not have cancer, the right to have a husband or wife, the right to have children, the right not be lonely, the right to die in your sleep, the right to a good job, the right to have just one more day with the one you love. Those are all treasures that we seek in this life, and I don’t blame you for wanting them. But the truth of the matter is…we’re not promised any of that – just a God that will walk alongside us and hold us when we weep. Dang! I wanted the promise of an unscathed life.
So, I won’t tell you the ending of the Nicolas Sparks book. It’s coming out as a movie later this year, but it’s one of those stories where there are two scenarios and story lines going on at one time, and for the life of you, you can’t figure out how they are inter-connected. But they are. Just like how we’re all inter-connected, bouncing off one another, touching other people’s lives, weaving back around and learning how to sell the farm for the promise of a better treasure that awaits.
I think learning the truth about grace just might be part of the treasure.