Evening had finally come to the tiny village of Xaman, Guatemala. Earlier in the day half of our team had worked on a church construction project, while the other half gathered children for the first day of VBS. Teaching about God, our good King, we led the children in making cardstock crowns. To be “fair” we judiciously metered out the exact same number of “precious gemstones” for each child. Now, while waiting for the evening outreach to begin, one little girl sidled up to me on the platform steps. Under the light of a single bare bulb, she looked me in the eye and uncurled her little fingers. There, in the cup of her hand she held about a dozen fake gemstones—rescued from other kids’ discarded crowns. She couldn’t speak English, and my Spanish was rudimentary, but I looked her in the eye and smiled. Girlfriend, I get you. As a little girl, I would have done exactly the same thing!
As humans we are naturally drawn to the colorful, the sparkly, the new and the different. We are created to appreciate beauty because it points us to the Creator of all beauty. But at the same time, we are called to see with spiritual eyes, “the lamp of the body.” We are called to look beyond the colorful, the sparkly, the new and the different and instead, to catch a glimpse of what is real and what is lasting.
Just about an hour after my encounter with this little girl, almost everyone on the team fell ill. Several, including my daughter who was 12 at the time, ended up in the village hospital for antibiotics and IV fluids. It was a long, sweltering, scary night.
But I have treasures from that trip. The kindness of the medical staff, including a lone female doctor, who treated us with all they had on hand, never judging us as “dumb Americans.” The hospitality of the hotel owner who brought fans to our hospital room. Our friend who drove us 12 hours to the beautiful city of Antigua to recover and then back to his home church. And through it all, God’s hand sustaining us every step of the way, bonding us to one another and to Guatemala.
Spiritual sight does that to you. As you walk with Christ, it loosens your grip on the treasures of this world, and redefines what is beautiful. You gladly trade in the fake gemstones of the world for the true beauty His kingdom.
- When have you experienced “treasures” in the midst of a difficult situation? What can you do to “open your eyes” to the true treasures God has all around you?
by Laure Herlinger