|Photo from CNN|
Saturday, March 22, 2014
What Do You Treasure Most?
A few days ago at a flea market in the Midwest, a scrap metal collector going through tough times bought a decorative gold egg containing a watch. The purchase price was $14,000, way beyond his means, but he thought he could get at least twice that for the weight of gold in the item, and he leveraged all his remaining assets to buy it.
But he had overestimated the weight of the gold, and he realized that his profit after melting it down would only be about $500 – hardly enough to rescue him from his dire financial straits. In desperation, he Googled “egg” plus "Vacheron Constantin," the name inscribed on the watch, and was amazed to learn he might be holding a rare collectible.
He took it to an art dealer who immediately recognized the great value of the piece, not for its gold content, but for its design, craftsmanship and beauty. The dealer realized it could only have been the work of Peter Carl Faberge, jeweler to the last Czar of Russia, and it fact it matched the description of one of the eight missing Imperial eggs that was designed in 1887 for the Czarina.
Although the Czar had commissioned 50 of these jeweled eggs throughout his reign, to be given as Easter gifts to his family, only 42 had been retrieved after the bloody revolution in which the Royal Family was assassinated.
The price paid by the art dealer to the scrap metal collector was undisclosed, but the last Faberge egg to be sold at auction (in 2007) fetched over $30 million, even though it was a non-Imperial egg and therefore less valuable than those commissioned by the Czar. So even though the scrap metal dealer sold all he had to purchase the egg, it was by far the best investment of his lifetime.
It reminded me of Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of heaven, which is like treasure found and hidden in a field so that the man burying the treasure could buy the field (and the treasure!) by first selling all that he had. Jesus then told of the merchant who looked for expensive pearls, and when he had found one pearl of great price, sold all that he had to buy it (Matthew 13:44-46).
If we are not willing to sacrifice all that was once dear to us, how can we invest our life in serving Him? Only then can we experience the priceless rewards He longs to give His children (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13). If we were to own the whole world, it would mean nothing if we were to lose our soul to eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 16:25-26; Mark 8:35-37).
The tale of the Faberge egg got me thinking about how we measure value. At a flea market, very few bargain hunters, even the most shrewd, would dream of spending $14,000 on any purchase, no matter what the potential value. Why would the flea market vendor sell the egg so “cheaply,” without even researching the price of the gold alone? What if the scrap metal dealer had failed to realize what an invaluable treasure he held in his grasp?
And what if the Czarina could tell us of what that egg represented to her – a symbol of her family’s power, lavish lifestyle and opulent wealth? A token of her husband’s deep and passionate love for her? Did the beautiful watch within the golden egg mean that the Czar wanted to give her the gift of time, wishing their happiness would last forever? Or, as it was an Easter gift, did it remind her of the most precious gift of all: Our Savior’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), so that all who trust in Him would have eternal life in Heaven (John 3:16), where time can no longer be measured?
Much of the decoration of this art object suggests its religious significance. It is fashioned of gold, fit for the King (Matthew 2:11), and contains a timepiece, which is appropriate to the One Who controls time (Daniel 2:21; Acts 1:7). It is adorned with three sapphires and three golden garlands, which could represent the Trinity. A diamond is the opening mechanism revealing the watch, reminding me of the sapphire and diamond on the high priest’s ephod (Exodus 28:18; 39:11).and the jewel-like brilliance of Christ seated on the throne of glory (Revelation 4:3). The Faberge egg sits upright on an elaborate gold stand supported by lion paw feet, which might be a reference to Jesus Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
On the night that I heard this news I dreamed, ironically, that I really needed to sleep, because of important and taxing commitments I had the next day. But in the dream, I kept waking up because of a CD player. The first time I was sure I had shut it off before going to bed, until I was surprised by Charles Stanley’s voice preaching. This was no time for a sermon, I thought with irritation, because sleep was now my first priority.
In the dream, I flipped the power switch to “Off” and once more drifted into restless sleep, when I again heard God’s Word as delivered by one of my favorite preachers. But in my annoyance at being awakened once more, my thoughts toward him and his message were not exactly charitable. This time I yanked the power cord from the wall and resumed my tossing and turning.
But to no avail. I again “awoke” (still dreaming!) to the sound of Scripture, this time not read by Charles Stanley but in tones so rich and pure they sounded like crystal resonating. Fascinated, I followed the sound to a golden egg, which appeared to contain not only a timepiece but a musical movement playing Bible verses. I tenderly cupped the egg in my hands and pressed it to my chest, letting the Word resonate through my very being.
No longer dreaming, I arose feeling blessed and inspired. But then I shuddered to think how many times I had shut out my Lord’s voice because of concerns that seemed more pressing, unaware that I was quenching and grieving the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). Sleep is valuable and necessary (Psalm 127:2), but how much more precious if He would speak to me! (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
What an awesome blessing when He awakens me with songs or visions in the night (Job 35:10; 4:13; Psalm 42:8; 77:6; Genesis 46:2; Daniel 7:13), perhaps laying a burden on my heart to pray for someone’s specific need, or giving me the long awaited solution to a problem, or even a new direction to follow
How often do we put God’s voice on “pause,” or “off,” valuing the empty chatter of the world more than His Word that is our daily bread and guiding light? (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3; Psalm 119:105) Even worse, what if we place more worth on our independence than on our relationship with Him? If we attempt to disconnect from our ultimate Power source, we will be as useless as branches yanked away from the True Vine (John 15:1-8).
What do we value most? Do we worship the idol of wealth accumulation (Luke 12:15-21), only to have it stolen or corrupted (Matthew 6:19-20), or to find that we have no time left (James 4:14; Job 14:1) to enjoy our hoard? Do we pour all our energy into making a living rather than seeking new life?
We should not worry about our physical needs (Psalm 37:25), for He is the ultimate Provider (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13; James 1:17). All we have to do is seek Him first, and we will give us His Kingdom and all that we need (Luke 12:22-32), granting us the desires of our heart as they align with His perfect will (Psalm 37:4).
Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Praise God that at the moment of salvation, His Holy Spirit enters our heart (2 Corinthians 1:22;5:5; Ephesians 1:14), which is the most precious gift imaginable. If we allow Him, He will write His mercy and truth on the tablet of our heart. His wisdom far outshines gold, silver and jewels, adding longevity, riches and honor to our life (Proverbs 3:13-16).
He makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), transforming us from scrap metal fit for the junk heap to His finely crafted workmanship, destined for His ultimate purpose (Ephesians 2:10). No longer need we fear time running out on our earthly days, for He has conquered death (1 Corinthians 15:26,55-57) and given us eternity with Him!
May we always hide His Word in our heart that we might not sin against Him! (Psalm 119:11) May we treasure Him above all else!
© 2014 Laurie Collett