Hidden in the Open

(Previously published in the Sept/Oct issue of Live Magazine www.baptistwomen.com)

“We know what we are but not what we may be.”
(Hamlet, William Shakespeare)

Some time ago I found a wad of twenties I had hidden in a small aluminum tin decorated with cats. Over the course of a few years, I had tucked away the periodic bill into that unassuming receptacle; amassing a tidy sum which I eventually forgot all about.  The tin sat ignored on the shelf amid well worn paperbacks and ceramic cat figurines. I got so used to seeing it that I ceased to see it all, let alone the money it contained.  Years passed with my treasure hidden in--well, not quite jars of clay--but a small cream coloured tin adorned with dancing felines. It wasn’t until much later when I was cleaning out my bedroom and having a stone cold truth discussion with myself about my girlhood cat decor fixation (and perhaps how it might be hindering my future) that I noticed the tin once again and vaguely remembered something to do with both it and money.

“How could you forget about four hundred dollars in cash?” my friend asked incredulously when I told her of my nifty discovery.  

How, indeed?

The thing is, I never knew that I had four hundred dollars.  I just had a twenty dollar bill that I tucked away here and there whenever I had more than one. I was ignorant of the wealth I had at my disposal. 

The greatest danger of tragedy exists when we don’t know what we should know.  It is for this reason that we often miss laying hold of by faith the attributes of Christ available to us as children of God.  We forget what we know by faith and habitually choose to rely on our own abilities and wisdom instead; valuing and regarding as true the conclusions based on subjective experience over what God reveals in His Word.   We need to remember what we know.

Virtue is discovered in affliction and developed into a treasure hoard collected one small victory at a time. The transformation of faith--of trusting the truth of Scripture enough to obey it--is like saving one twenty dollar bill at a time.  Sometimes it seems like a lot to save, a hardship; while in other moments of abundance, it is almost inconsequential.   This is the humility of faith, that we surrender the right to our own wisdom and trust God instead. 

Sadly, I think I have spent much of my life with the mistaken belief that by taking God’s view of things, I would somehow be impoverishing myself. Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is only in God’s paradigm of faith that His child can be pressed and not crushed by circumstances that would destroy anyone else.  The world and the enemy will do everything in their power to deform and mutilate us into their likeness, but we are being conformed into the image of God’s own Son. We are more than conquerors through Christ.  Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world.

But here lies the most deceitful trap of all: it doesn’t feel that way.  When hard pressed on every side and suffering acutely, I feel like I’m drowning, not conquering.  Trusting God when the stakes are mountain high has often felt like wishful thinking and a fool’s hope not grounded in reality.  My feelings--particularly my feelings amid the storm--cannot be trusted for they are generally based on reactionary emotions, hunger, sleeplessness and fear. It is in those moments more than ever that I need to cling to what I know to be incontrovertible truth.  It is the Truth that makes us stronger than we are; braver than we are; better than we are.  It is the Truth alive in us by faith that overcomes the world.  

I had four hundred dollars at my disposal but I didn’t remember it.  We have riches available to us that allow us to conquer in life but we forget we tucked them away in plain sight; one battle at a time.  We are made in the image of God who is eternal and while our bodies will wear out, we were made to endure, to thrive, to be victorious.  It is not our identity to be crushed when pressed on all sides but to retain the shape of Christ; to spring back into the form and pattern of Jesus no matter what the world or the devil throws at us. 



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