My Wealthy Parents
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! Revelation 2:9
When I was a kid, I knew we weren’t wealthy. My father was the pastor of a church in rural South Dakota after all. He chose a life of ministry and service that was never going to make him rich – at least not financially. We lived in a small town where no one was terribly wealthy though. We had clothes, food, and a home, but still, we had TV, and, on that TV, I saw all the stuff I thought I was missing. Like any kid, I was envious of all the things I didn’t have. We weren’t wealthy, and I was aware of it.
Looking back, I see it differently. As I meet those now who grew up in dysfunctional homes, I realize how good I had it. Growing up with abusive, neglectful, addicted parents, a lot of my patients simply never stood a chance at growing into functional, sober adults. They may have grown up with more toys and money than I did, but their home life was desperately lacking in structure, security, discipline, and love. Looking back, I can see that my parents were extravagantly wealthy in all the ways that mattered most. They loved me. They disciplined me. They pointed me to faith in God and modeled a life of service to him. Looking back, I can see that I grew up rich.
In today’s passage, Jesus had a similar message to the church in Smyrna. In it, he lamented with them about their trials and persecution. Their lives were difficult, and they weren’t wealthy – at least not financially. Jesus reminded them though that they were, in reality, quite rich. Compared to the lost around them, they had a relationship with God the father. This made them far wealthier than anyone around them in the things that truly mattered. Maybe they didn’t have money or toys, but Jesus reminded them that true life, joy, and peace don’t come from stuff and circumstance. Authentic, eternal life comes only from living in a loving relationship with God.
Do I believe that? Yes, of course. On what then do I spend my time and energy? I work many hours every week to earn a paycheck. I invest daily in my bank account, growing my estate. Do I also invest daily in my relationship with God? If I truly believe that my faith is the most important thing in my life, do my actions reflect that? The true value of my life doesn’t lie in my financial portfolio, but rather in knowing and following God. So, daily, I must live that reality, investing in my relationship with him.