When I was at school I was known to be a conscientious student. I loved doing well in my chosen subjects and I always aimed to get high scores on my exams. My aim was to receive an academic award at the end of my school year. If you received A’s in 5 subjects consecutively over 3 terms you would get an Academic Excellence. If you received 4 A’s consecutively over 3 terms you would get a High Achievement. If you achieved a place in one of these levels you got a trophy.
I loved trophies. Trophies in my schooling years were like gold. I only received 3 academic trophies in my 12 years of schooling. I received many other awards, but trophies were my choice of award. They were more grandeur because they could be displayed and were specially made for you because your name and grade were inscribed on the plaque.
There was one girl in my grade who ALWAYS got a trophy whether it be in sport or for being academic. She was the top of the grade when it came to her school work and would be the best swimmer, runner, speaker – you name it, whatever it was – she was the best at it. She was also the School Captain in year 12. I admired her but felt a slight injustice that someone was so talented in every area of their life.
Needless to say she received HEAPS of trophies. I longed to have her collection.
How ironic that a week or two ago my dad and I had to replace a hot water unit for her parent’s granny flat at their property. The hot water unit was contained in a dark, narrow space and there on one of the shelves was an old box full of my school friend’s trophies. A bit of a sticky beak, I picked one up and wiped the dust off and happily reminisced about my days at school and the joy and sense of achievement when receiving one of these trophies.
It also made me sad because here were these trophies that I quite literally yearned to have, discarded, in an old box, in a dark cupboard, collecting dust.
I wonder if this is how God feels when he sees us working harder and harder to earn more money so we can build bigger houses to fill them with… STUFF. The stuff loses it’s appeal and so we work harder to buy more stuff and so the accumulation of stuff gets piled in boxes and out debts get bigger, but our hearts feel emptier.
Life is not about winning trophies nor is it about accumulating STUFF. Life is meant to be filled with love and commitment, joy and respect, friends and family and happy experiences that reinvigorate our soul and give us memories to last a life time. I am blessed to have a nice house, have a good car and my own walk-in-robe wardrobe full of clothes to keep me clothed for years (providing I keep my same weight!), but what really makes my heart soar is the love I share with my husband and the joy of seeing my daughter grow into a healthy and interactive toddler. My life is full of joy and I want to fill it with more joy but I often get tempted to keep up with the Jones’s (another irony – my surname used to be Jones!)
There is nothing wrong with being able to afford a nice house, a sweet car or designer clothes, but if our life is based on pursuing these treasures, we will never be satisfied and we will come to the end of our life with treasures that in the scheme of things don’t matter to God.
I learned a lesson that day to make it a daily habit to pursue Heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones. God knows that I don’t want to be living in an empty room in Heaven so I’m gonna be focusing on being more compassionate, merciful, humble, grateful, joyful and hopeful. I am going to love more and spend more time pursuing making memories rather than accumulating dust collectors. No trophy can ever substitute Heavenly treasures that stand the test of time.
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’