Birthday presents get trickier as you get older. So when I asked my wonderful wife what she would like for a “significant” birthday, I received a profound answer.
Nothing like raising the stakes! Wisdom was applied… and we booked a short break at Lewtrenchard Manor in Devon. It was more expensive than our usual level of venue, but it was an experience to remember. It became a memory to cherish. This photo of the garden is my favourite; although it could have been a picture to remind us of the excellent restaurant, or the authentic antique furniture. Or the grandeur of the building… and so on.
Wrapping the gift was easy. Suitcase, overcoats, suit & posh frock, and off we went across Dartmoor and past Okehampton to our hotel. Did you know that the writer of the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” used to live in the Manor, and was Rector of the adjacent parish church? See, now you have a memory to hold on to as well!
It is still a lovely, precious memory. If one of us says “Lewtrenchard” we both sigh happily and recall the special moments of the Manor that weekend.
Most truly valuable things in our lives are memories, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Stuff we acquire along the way fades or fails, or is replaced or upgraded. We can’t take any of it with us!
The things we do, and the people we become, are what matter most.
Jesus told us to “store up treasure in heaven” rather than amass wealth that could rust, ruin, or be stolen. It’s about priorities and values: when we choose to live according to the way of Christ, our lives have a deeper purpose and the things we “hold” in this life are to be used for the Kingdom of God rather than our selfish requirements. God, it seems, has a bias to the poor. I do wonder what it will be like for immensely rich people when God enquires about the way they used their wealth.
But then, although not well off, I and most of us in the wealthy West are ASTONISHINGLY rich compared to the majority of the world’s population. What will Jesus say to me when He looks me in the eye?
Love God, love your neighbour, and live a holy life (with His help) is a short summary of following Jesus. Being forgiven is not to be taken for granted; but definitely something for which to be thankful.
Sitting loose to our possessions is good advice. Making and storing great memories, and doing the things Jesus would do, these are the kind of “treasures” we should store.
My most precious memories are about love. The love of God, the love of my wife, my family and friends- and sometimes the love of a stranger. Memories are made of this.