Thursday, November 25, 2010

Discovering Forgotten Treasure

Gold  key on treasure chest | royalty free photos #39922955
I love going through a cupboard to find treasure. This began as a little girl when I was forced to clean the walk-in closet in the large bedroom I shared with my sister. We had periodically “cleaned” our room by tossing our possessions into the back of that long dark closet. So when we reluctantly tackled the closet I was delighted to rediscover clothes, shoes, books, games, and toys we had blithely tossed into the darkness. The cleanup was tedious, but I discovered the pleasure of treasure hunting.

So yesterday I got to tackle one cupboard in my mother-in-law’s kitchen because I needed to get at the roasting pan. It’s not my kitchen, but I was still stirred by the spirit of discovery. In that one cupboard I found some amazing “treasures.” I mean, really. My mother-in-law has a heavy duty roasting pan that is more than fifty years old but still as good as new. I got to try it out today!

And on the bottom shelf, buried under stacks of saved paper bags and boxes of wax paper and foil I found the most amazing like-new cake pans just awaiting an eager cake-baker. I also found a little packet of original sample “Ziplock bags” with the words “you’ve never seen a storage bag like this before!!!” This well preserved sample could be in the Dow museum.

In the busyness of our recent transition I’ve been pondering forgotten treasures. While walking through the “lostness” that normally accompanies transition, I’ve been recalling the memory treasures we have piled up through our years of serving in Africa. I have flashbacks of chatting with friends over tea, under a tree, in a sidewalk cafĂ©, and while bouncing over the ruts of an African road. When I miss the direct ministry, I take a foray into recalling the faces of students we have taught in simmering heat under thatch, in the icy cold of a morning, in spacious airy classrooms, and under trees. I revel in the parade of students who have become leaders and missionary statesmen. Treasures imbedded in my memory.

In this new season when we are so far from our teaching and traveling life, I’ve experienced a sense of emptiness. I’m not teaching a workshop. I’m not discipling new missionaries. I’m not visiting or praying with missionaries. But God stepped in to remind me of the hidden treasure he’s created inside of me through many years of service. Through hardship he’s shaped my character and taught me longsuffering and patience. He’s nurtured in me a deep sense of trust in His faithfulness. And he’s hammered out knowledge, skills, and tools for teaching and inspiring learners. Rubbing shoulders and even clashing with others has dug deep wells of understanding and empathy. Treasures gathered along the missionary journey.

I fully expect God to direct us about how to continue ministering into Africa from our new location. But for this season of separation, I’m enjoying the treasures I’d forgotten. Jesus told his disciples, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." (Matt 13:52) I’m enjoying the new treasures I’m finding in serving my mother-in-law and the new insights I’m discovering in my reading and studying, but I want to be a wise householder who brings out old treasure, polishes it, and puts it to use again. I love rediscovering hidden treasure. What about you?

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