Debbie’s Treasure (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 9, 2014)

How is it that kids move at the speed of molasses when you actually need them to get somewhere, but as soon as you turn your back for a split-second, they can perform superhuman feats of agility? I have found myself in this situation more often than I care to admit, but I’m thinking about a particular instance when one of my sons (about 4 years old, at the time) managed to climb onto a curio table, and the sounds of broken glass and him screaming sent me running back around the corner from where I could swear I had *just* turned.

By God’s grace, he was ok, but my table was demolished. It was the one “pretty” thing I had displayed in the house, and it held my most precious souvenirs from when I lived in China. The trinkets may not have much monetary value, but they are certainly sentimental and irreplaceable – especially a Chinese art book from a friend whose English nickname is Debbie.

I remember going to dinner with Debbie one evening in the city where we lived, and she asked for a fork. I thought she was being polite and offering it to me (though I knew how to use chopsticks), but she said that she had never used a fork in public before and wanted to try it. We had such fun together. The colorful book of ink drawings that she gave to me when I left is all the more special simply because it was a gift from her. I would be devastated if it was ever ruined.

Yet, in that moment of consoling my son and making sure that he wasn’t injured, the table and its contents didn’t matter. That art book may very well be the most priceless possession I own, but it is still just “stuff.” Matthew 6:19-21 reminds us where to place our priorities when it comes to the “stuff” in our lives. It says to not worry so much about stocking up treasures here on earth, where thieves can rob and time can erode (and preschoolers can demolish!). Instead, stash away heavenly treasures – the ones that can never be destroyed or stolen.

I haven’t told you the most special thing about Debbie yet. Yes, we had fun together and I miss her a lot, but she was more than just a sweet friend … she became a sister in Christ. All of the fine art in the world cannot compare to the joy of knowing that even though Debbie and I may never see each other again this side of eternity, we’ll be friends forever in Glory. And that is a treasure, indeed!

Becoming Transformed (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 9, 2014)

Art appreciation has never been my strong suit, but one of my favorite pieces is a mixed media sculpture called “Born Again” by artist Dean Kermit Allison. The design features a man looking skyward with his back slightly arched and his hands clasped in front of him, as if he’s exerting himself to stay upright. From the waist down to the ground, he is covered in bronze that is peeling off in large patches. His exposed upper body looks like crystal, which provides a stark contrast in light and texture. I have only ever seen a photo of the sculpture, but it still moves me.

The bronze is harsh, rough, and jagged, like sin that has encased us and held us captive. And yet, the crystal-clear beauty of a transformed life is bursting out of the ugliness. Wow. Think for a moment … really let it sink in … about that imagery of what Jesus has done for us.

When we participate in the symbolism of baptism, it is a representation of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; as though our sin is being washed away like water washes your body. We can scrub ourselves raw in the shower and yet never cleanse what lies beneath the skin. God, on the other hand, sees through your tough exterior; he knows what hides beneath.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIRV) says, “Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come!” Certainly, through his death and resurrection, Jesus has secured salvation for those who believe in him, but that’s not the only thing. Our salvation doesn’t begin the moment we die. It happens right now!

Transformation is a process, but God sees your potential. In 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, we are reminded that there is newfound freedom in Christ, and we become more like him as we allow God to change us. Peeling off layer after layer of sin is not usually an easy or painless process, but like the statue I described above, the end result is glorious.