Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Value of Your Treasure

 Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time in your day? Are you often frustrated, easily stressed out, or sometimes just plain overwhelmed and exhausted?  Is it to the point that when service is needed, you feel like the last person on earth with the time or strength to serve and either  turn down the opportunity or serve grudgingly?

This last month I have been reflecting a lot on time, talents and service. We just moved into our new home a month ago. As I've been working hard at getting the house put together and my various other projects, there have been more and more friends, family and sometimes complete strangers who have reached out to me if one way or another asking for help with their ideas, projects and talents.

The quilt I finished for my baby's bed
With it being just weeks away from my family house warming party I thought, "Oh no, how am I ever going to get my own projects done?" In addition to that, I was trying to work my business, throw a birthday party, celebrate Mother's Day, attend performances and get my kids from point A to point B when needed throughout the week. As the worrying set in, a subtle peace came over me each time, assuring me that the service I was rendering was much appreciated not only by the receiver but also the Lord.

My son's big birthday party last mont

It was then, that the law of consecration came into my mind. The law of consecration is a divine principle whereby men and women voluntarily dedicate their time, talents, and material wealth to the establishment and building up of God’s kingdom. As Latter days Saints (Mormons), we are taught and asked to live the law of consecration in our daily lives. Though not always easy (especially when you are a busy mom), we understand the importance of it and the blessings that come from dedicating ourselves to the Lord and His work.

My daughter at Nationals for clogging last month
I used to wonder why I hadn't been blessed with stronger musical and singing talent. I love music and I have always wanted to write and perform but no matter how hard I worked at it, my musical abilities were very weak. However I have been blessed with the gift of speaking and writing. I often forget that the Lord has blessed me with this gift for His purposes. What things have you been blessed with in your life? Think about how the Lord has blessed you with these things, characteristics or abilities for an eternal purpose. How are you using your gifts to help Him?

Everything we have, comes from the Lord (including our talents). The gifts we have been given are not just for own benefit, they have a deeper purpose. When I remember this, it makes it a bit easier to give to others what has been given to me. The more we give, the more the Lord will fill our cups so that we can continue to give.

I don't know about you, but the parable of the talents comes to mind here. In Matthew 25:13-40, Jesus tells of a master who was leaving his home to travel, and before going entrusted his property to his servants (property worth 8 talents, where a talent was a large unit of money). One servant receives five talents, the second two talents, and the third one talent, according to their respective abilities.

Returning after a long absence, the master asks his servants for an accounting. The first two servants explain that they have each put their money to work and doubled the value of the property they were entrusted with, and so they are each rewarded. The third servant, however, has merely hidden his talent in a hole in the ground, and is punished for being lazy.

While on this spiritual whirlwind I was being lifted higher and higher to a better understanding of why I needed to realign my priorities. I mean, how important were my projects that I couldn't take a break from them to help someone nurture and grow their own talents? By doing so, these individuals would be able to use their own talents and ideas to do what I was doing (the ripple effect) and thus build the kingdom. The Lord gave me my talents so that I could use them to help others.

Think about the many times in your own life when you needed someone's help, advice, wisdom or some motivation. How grateful were you for the countless people who set aside their busy schedule to help you achieve what you needed at that moment. In fact, it's possible that you achieved an unimaginable goal because of this person. Did you pay it forward to help another?

The real influence here is our motive. It all comes down to what we are seeking after. In  Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says:

 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Yes, I had to re-evaluate my treasure last month.  It wasn't  beautiful decorations, earning extra spending cash, or even a clean kitchen. It was of a heavenly and eternal nature. Recognizing this changed my heart which of course is what changed my priorities.

You know what? Changing my priorities actually brought me greater happiness. In fact, as I gave up more of my time, some amazing opportunities came knocking at my door. Not only will these opportunities allow me to help more people, but they will bless my family in ways we had prayed for.

As crazy as it may sound I was even blessed with more time! I prayed to the Lord that there just didn't seem to be enough time in my days to do all things I needed to do to meet my deadlines. I was willing to sacrifice my "projects" during the week in order to keep my priorities aligned with His but if it wasn't too much to ask I would greatly appreciate being able to knock off my to do list all in a day (which my husband said was impossible). The housewarming party was 36 hours away. There were curtains that needed to be hung, flowers to be planted, furniture to put together, food to be prepared, regular cleaning to be done and the list went on.

I don't know how He did it, but the Lord allowed me to complete my entire list all in one Saturday. My kids were extra obedient that day, my husband was extra sweet and for some odd reason did not have any Saturday projects of his own and cheerfully helped me with everything I asked of him (a rare moment). It was as if I had entered some strange twilight zone where everything was strangely perfect. It even seemed like someone had slowed down the clock and as busy as we all were the hours had stretched out. I had never experienced anything like it before and I knew that God had answered my prayer. 

Our Father in Heaven is very wise and all knowing. We are His hands here on earth. He gives us time, talents and sometimes wealth, so that we can use it to help others. If we are faithful and show Him that He can rely on us as a tool in His hands, He will continue to use us for those purposes and we will be blessed with more, so that we can do more.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated or just plain unhappy, here is a little exercise you can try that just might help:

Take a blank sheet of paper and number it 1-5
...go ahead...
....... I'll wait while you start numbering.........

Okay.  Now starting with number 1, write the main item that you spend the most time on or put the most effort into during the week. It might be cleaning, work, a church assignment/calling or facebook.

Continue this in order of what takes most of your time and effort until you have listed 5 items. 

Below this, number your paper 1-5 again. Again,  starting at number one write the things you value most in your life in order of 1 being the most important until you have listed the top 5 items in your life.

Now compare your two lists side by side. See if your priorities match up to what you value. If they are out of alignment, this is the underlying factor to your unhappiness and frustration. Do your best to change your priorities to match up with what you value and are of most importance. How can you make changes in your schedule to afford the time and effort for the things you value most. 

The Lord needs us to to have the strength and energy to lift those around us. Everyone is busy and if we all used that as our reason for avoiding service, what a sad world this would be. Service is the thread that binds us all together. You can't learn to love someone until you serve them. Whether it be your children, your husband, your neighbors or a complete stranger, it's service that strengthens these relationships and builds stronger families, communities and even a better world.

It was no surprise to me that God had placed these service opportunities in my path each week for a reason. I had the right strengths to offer these individuals in their time of need. I was even an answer to some prayers (as I had been told). In return, I needed to learn patience, faith and humility.

It's funny to me that when serving in the moments when you feel the least able to serve, everything ends up working out. What you thought was an obstacle standing  in the way of sharing your time and talents, seems to disappear. Life somehow becomes easier to manage as we focus on the value of our eternal treasure. It's strange how the Lord works, but sometimes the miracle doesn't happen until we apply our faith first.

1 comment:

Jean Vogler said...

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