“Oh Lord, it disgusts me that I stumbled again. I want to stand strong, but I let You down again. I don’t deserve Your endless love!”
Did you ever hear such words come from another Christian’s heart? Maybe even the unspoken thoughts in your own heart. God’s parable of the treasure and pearl come to our aid.
When we have such thoughts, we spiral down rapidly. How can we rush freely and confidently into the presence of the One we feel we let down? Fortunately, we can “bounce well,” even from this despair.
I would strongly encourage you revisit the four pillars…and also #3, “When I Throw Myself a Pity Party” (see below for hyperlink). Change begins with honesty so call it what it is: “wallowing in my self-pity.”
Such responses reflect a small view of all four pillars.
A low view of God. A small view of how God designed you and what Jesus did to restore you as a new creation. And a partial view of how impacting Genesis 3 is. We will always be in-process in this life.
But don’t despair! Self-loathing means we still do not get it. So God will use this “crisis of faith” for that next step to transform you…if you will lean into Him hard. This is a God-opportunity charged for growth so rejoice. Oh, I know you probably don’t feel like rejoicing. Rejoicing, however, has nothing at all to do with our circumstances, but our God.
And be assured that you did not “let God down again.” He is not surprised that you wavered again. He will never leave or forsake you… forever. Do you know how long “forever” is? By contrast, as a good Father, He draws even closer when we hurt. And of course, if you are reading this, you know how foolish it is to think we could do anything to deserve God’s endless love. It’s a free gift, and God is no Indian-giver.
We could go to many passages, but the twin parable of “The Treasure” and “The Pearl of Great Price” (Matthew 13:44-46) points us to heart attitudes in the Kingdom.
As in many profound passages, conflicting interpretations from godly Christians abound. So look fresh, as if you had never read these words of Jesus before. Jesus did not hide truth from us in the parables, but for us that the finding might be sweeter.
Parables are stories to teach us one poignant point, here about Kingdom attitudes. Jesus used these to illicit whole-person response, heart response that touches our mind and affections so our will is strengthened to choose rightly. Parables invite us imaginatively into the story to examine our lives. Settle in. Enter the story imaginatively.
The question is who/what are the four “characters?” Jesus clarifies two by saying “the Kingdom of heaven is like,” both the treasure and pearl merchant. Begin here. The Kingdom inbreaking of the Father, Son and Spirit is like a treasure unsurpassed in value and a pearl merchant who seeks worldwide for fine pearls.
1. God’s Kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field (Matt. 13:44). The field is the world (Matt. 13:38).
A man on his way in life, any man God stirs, stumbles across this treasure without measure. Two choices lie before him, yet only one sane choice. Will he continue on His way, ignoring an invitation to true riches? Or will he joyfully sell all to buy the field to experience lifelong blessings from the treasure? God call us, any man or woman, to reevaluate our choices to be sure we keep on making the sane choice.
The only reasonable day-by-day choice, “in his joy [he] went and sold all he had.” Re-up now with the same Kingdom response. “Jesus, I blew it again. I’m so sorry and desperately need you. So here is my life again, just as it is. I wholeheartedly give myself again to you, my King and Bridegroom.” That’s what our Lord is looking for. Not a promise of intent for the future, but the expression of our yearning right where we are.
In times of self-loathing, this has often been too much for me. In honesty, I have prayed: “I want to want to surrender fully to You.” God meets us right there, where we are. He’s that kind of Father!
2. God’s Kingdom is also like a pearl merchant seeking valuable pearls (Matt. 13:45-46).
The pearl merchant is God, the ever-seeking missionary God whose first-love always initiates. In the first parable, we seek God, who is a treasure beyond description. In this second of the twin parables, God Himself seeks us, who are pearls of unsurpassed value. God is the ever-seeking missionary God whose first-love always initiates.
So we are the pearl of great value, His Bride, the church, and each of us individually. The pearl-expert crosses the farthest seas to seek the finest pearls. He apparently has a great collection of fine pearls, each valued. Yet when He finds this one pearl whose value surpasses everything in His possession, a single-minded joy seizes him. The pearl merchant gladly and willingly sells everything for that one pearl of great price. Jesus gave His life to purchase His Bride, the pearl of great value.
Let’s think about the two people, the man, any man or woman, and God, the pearl-merchant. Were they crazy to sell all? Had they lost their minds? Or are the shrewdest people around? It all depends!
How valuable is the treasure and pearl?
Are they of far greater value than what they invested? Make this personal. Do you believe the treasure of the Father, Son and Spirit and this Kingdom expression is worth “joyfully selling all”? If so, then the choice is easy.
What about the pearl-merchant? Do you think God was swindled when He “sold everything” to purchase you, with the price of the death of Jesus? It’s God’s great pleasure to adopt you into His family (Eph. 1:5). We are why God created in Genesis 1 and 2. Soak in these parables until you joyfully adjust your priorities to God’s. God truly does value you so highly. Let His initiating first-love grip your heart.
This is a short article from “Bounce Well,” a book that is still in the manuscript stage. The rough draft of “Bounce Well” is available by free PDF download.