By Sheryl Tollerud, Lt. Colonel–
One of my favorite verses at Christmas is Luke 2:19: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. God announced such an amazing plan for the salvation of the world to Mary through the angel Gabriel; he revealed the integrity of Mary’s faithful heart to Joseph; and God watched over the birth of his one and only son in a humble stable on a starry night filled with wonder, glory and singing. Mary marveled at the goodness, the greatness and, at the same time, the gentleness of our loving heavenly Father. This is what she treasured in her heart—grace, hope, salvation and eternity!
This fall season, and indeed over the past three years, we have seen shocking scenes of the devastation of the wildfires throughout the territory. Many of you have shared in the special ministry of presence with people who have lost their homes and looked over the ashes of what some would say was their “everything”—a bizarre and surreal scene. Thank you for sharing God’s heart and hope. Those are treasured times in ministry that have more impact than you can imagine.
When my sister called to say they had been asked to be ready to evacuate at level 1, then level 2, then thankfully back to level 1 again, I prayed for them, of course, but also wondered: What would I pack up to take if in the same circumstance? What is it that I really treasure? Actually, I have thought about this before and do have a few items that are most precious to me:
- The clay turtle I made for my dad in first grade
- The clay angel our son, Jon, made for me in first grade (that’s when I really knew I was a mother!)
- The small heart frame with a few locks of our son, Daniel’s, curls
- Our son, David’s, clay goldfish pinch-pot
- A special letter from my husband that was framed and presented to me at a women’s rally
Of course, I would also gather up the family photos. And then I would scoop up my Bible and my journals, for they have captured the lovely ways the Lord has spoken deep into my soul.
My greatest treasures relate to my most precious relationships. But even if I was not able to gather up these few items, the relationships they represent would not be lost—they are treasured through the good times and the difficult and forever.
God feels that way about you and me. We are his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 7:6 lets us know how crazy his love is for each one of us: For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
The Lord God, the Creator, preserver and governor of all things, loves you and proved that by coming, himself, to earth to become our sacrifice and salvation. Mary treasured this astounding truth in her heart. Her confidence in that extraordinary love and her daily walk with the Lord led her to simply say, “Yes, Lord, regardless!”
My prayer for you today is to know that same closeness, that same sense of confidence and identity because you are treasured and loved immeasurably by Jesus Christ. Think about what that truly means to you today and how everything else that is swirling around you can keep you preoccupied, rather than fortified. Consider the wonder and glory of God’s love to you!
It isn’t your gold or silver, your talents great or small,
Your voice, or your gift of drawing,
Or the crowd you go with at all;
It isn’t your friends or your pastimes,
Your looks or your clothes and array;
It isn’t your home or family, or even the things you say;
It isn’t your choice of amusements, it isn’t the life you lead,
It isn’t the thing that you prize most,
Or the books you like to read;
O it isn’t the things you have, dear, Or the things you like to do,
The Master is searching deeper…
He seeks not yours, but you.
It’s your heart that Jesus longs for; Your will to be made His own,
With self on the cross forever…And Jesus alone on the throne.
–Ruth Bell Graham
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34).
- Pick a Scripture study to follow this week and read one part each day for the next four days. On the fifth day, send it to someone you think would also benefit from it.
- See how you can get involved in the Fight for Good at westernusa.salvationarmy.org.
- Did you know The Salvation Army served more than 23 million Americans last year fighting hunger, homelessness, substance abuse and more—all in a fight for good? Where can you help? Take our quiz to find your cause and learn how you can join in today.