I NOTICED a breeze in my car and saw that one back window had been shattered. Bundles of clothes that had been in the back seat were gone. Already I was between jobs. I needed to find a new place to live immediately. And now this.
Experience had taught me well that turning to God is a very effective thing to do in times of trouble. So, while I did notify the police of the theft, I didn't spend time thinking about how the clothes would be returned or replaced. In a Bible passage from the book of Matthew, from what is called the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus said to his disciples, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (6:19-21). It seemed important for me to gain a deeper understanding of what those "treasures in heaven" are all about.
There is a company in my city that advertises museum quality storage. This means that in their building, one's valuables are assured of thorough safeguarding-right down to humidity control. But in that passage from the Bible, Jesus was asking his students to take the idea of security to a level even higher than that of this careful storage. He was asking them to move their standard of safety from the material to the spiritual. He was instructing them to recognize the value of spiritual understanding, and to guard it even more closely than valuable possessions. Everything Jesus did and said was an illustration of how completely safe one is in God's care. It seems to me that "treasures in heaven" even define the ultimate standard of security.
Jesus was constantly talking about what is safe and permanent, showing that it is God, and the understanding of our relation to Him. The honest desire to be close to God does bring us close to Him, and thus to the source of all security. God loves us all-deeply loves us. God is divine Love and is always with us. We can never be separated from Love, and there's no way Love can ever be taken from us. In fact, since the source of one's whole identity is God, every detail of who we are- and all that we need-is in God and is permanent there. Even just a glimpse of that fact can make surprising things happen.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church, wrote, "Of two things fate cannot rob us; namely, of choosing the best, and of helping others thus to choose" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165). What is "the best"? Maybe it's the spiritual treasure of other people in our lives, and the recognition that the source of the good qualities they express is God.
Praying about this over the next days, I began to appreciate friendships a little more deeply. I saw them as evidence of God's presence-that spiritual kind of treasure that brings a sense of heaven right here. How little of God's love a person must feel in order to steal someone else's clothing! I found it easy to forgive whoever had taken mine, recognizing that they must need to feel the security of spiritual understanding. In the extremity of my own circumstances I had turned to God, and was finding a kind of security that I had never known before.
Over the course of the next few weeks I found a new apartment and stable employment. My old wardrobe was replaced several times over, with clothes much nicer than those that had been taken. People who knew nothing of my predicament said they had clothes that had been hanging in their closets unworn, and asked if I could use them. These clothes were beautiful, and they all fit.
Genuine security is really that of understanding that we all have a permanent relation to God, in which we are thoroughly, totally, fervently loved. Anyone can trust God to care for him, for her, and can guard that treasure well. Anyone can look for God, find Him, and appreciate His influence in the details of daily life.