Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I changed the aquarium water for the first time yesterday and held my breath to see if my fish, seven Danios, had survived the ordeal. In the morning I couldn't wait to see if all seven had made it through the night, or if one or more had been "voted off the island," as on a certain television show. But there they were - seven active fish, getting to know the new driftwood, and each one looking swimmingly happy.
I had wanted more colorful, exotic fish, but the man at the pet store talked me into purchasing these because of their hardiness. Now I'm happy with my choice. The flashy, outwardly pleasing has its place, but I'm learning to appreciate what endures. Jesus told his followers to be aware of what matters to them: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34).
This is a good reminder, because I've been known to be overly affected by the final score of my favorite baseball team's efforts or even the outcome of TV game shows. It may be a form of escape, my becoming so absorbed in how a certain pitcher does or who wins a million dollars. It somehow reduces the importance of my higher-than-ever fuel oil bill or the funny clunk my car makes when I back up.
One of the qualities of God is endurance, "forever-ness." What God gives doesn't get lost, can't be stolen, can't get worse over a period of time. The first chapter of James says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (verse 17). Legacies, inheritances, and gifts, when spiritually based, aren't subject to chance. We may have a gift of being a peacemaker or a mediator in our circle of family and friends, or have the ability to make people laugh. Those precious talents are naturally part of who we are. When God gives a gift, it's forever.
In game shows or sporting events, mental and physical challenges may be tough. But even under stress, what matters in the end is being true to who you are. True, that is, to the better self you want to be all the time. You may not be the flashiest fish in the aquarium, but honesty, integrity, and kindness are treasures you can hold on to. So "where your treasure is" is within you - not in your pocket in the form of money, not on your shelf in the form of a championship trophy - but within you and your relationship to God.
How about the second part of the sentence, "there will your heart be also"? I ask myself, Is my heart yearning to be with God? Am I trying to feel close to Him every day, or have I compartmentalized my life and relegated God to the religion section? Recently I had a choice - to go to church or stay home to see if my team would win the game and if the person I was rooting for would win the million dollars. I wound up watching my team and my favorite contestant both lose. So what was I left with? I was mad at myself and disappointed about what I'd been certain would be a happy time.
The Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 261). If I wanted treasure or pleasure that lasts, I needed to invest in my relationship to God - to take to the bank of my being all that is enduring, good, and true. Think about what each day would be like if it included more of those three qualities. I couldn't afford to ignore spiritual values that give such a high yield. This would be an investment that lasted, so I needed to occupy my day with all that I know about God and how I am His well-loved child.
One way to bring God's love into my life is to expand my awareness of Him in everyday activities. To accept God as the source of joy, guidance, and support. True wealth, the wealth from within, endures the test of time.
Don't ever tell my dear Danios that they weren't my first choice for the aquarium. They've taught me a lesson, and I wouldn't want to hurt their fishy feelings.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society