Today I watch our resident red squirrel raid the apple tree. She leaps along to the end of a branch much too thin to hold even her lightweight frame. The branch bends nearly to the ground, burdened not only by the apples it bears, but by the added weight of a hungry squirrel. She bites into the little green apple and tugs until the stem lets loose. Then she scampers down the squat trunk of the apple tree, across the lawn, and up to the lowest limb of our red pine.
I have to laugh. The apple she’s carrying is nearly as big as she is. Yet, she’s determined to take it home and either eat it for lunch or tuck it away for a rainy day. Suddenly Ginger, that’s what the girls named our red squirrel friend, realizes I’m spying on her. She scurries up the tree and takes a flying leap to a nearby birch. I lose her in the branches and filtered sunlight.
Ginger reappears moments later, apple-less. Apparently she’s tucked her treasure safely away and has returned to chew me out for spying on her. She hangs from a limb, upside down, chattering and chirping. With each rebuke she flicks her furry little tail, as if punctuating her point. I guess Ginger thinks I’ll try to steal her stash if the opportunity arises.
Lately, I’ve noticed my tendency to lay up and guard my earthly treasures. It’s silly, I know. All I’m doing is spending money on useless stuff, money that could be put to better use. At least Ginger’s hoard is a matter of survival. My hoard is a matter of self-indulgence.
I’m not suggesting it’s wrong to have nice things. But the truth is, I have so many nice things I can’t possibly enjoy them all. It’s overkill. Nothing I claim as my own really belongs to me. After all, I can’t take it with me! When I leave this temporal world for my eternal home, our children will divide the spoils and sell off the junk no one wants. And God will be weighing out my heavenly treasures. When He throws a lifetime of spent money, time, and energy on His purifying fire, I wonder how much wood, hay and stubble will burn away… and how much gold, silver, and precious stone will survive. (I Corinthians 3: 11-13)
Some days God must look at this ginger and chuckle, just as I chuckle at Ginger, trying to hoard a load almost bigger than I can bear. I scurry home and hide it away. When I see God watching, I chatter and chirp, trying to justify my actions against the conviction of my heart. I forget God is not going to steal my joy. He’ll only take from me what will distract my heart from its heavenly home.
“Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:19-21)