Monday, March 4, 2013

Hidden Treasure

This is Jemima. My Beanie, as I called her. She was our beautiful, docile, obedient pure-bred yellow lab who barked at strangers but decided they were friends 30 seconds later and wanted to be petted until one's hand fell asleep. Beanie loved stuffed animals. She could have carried them around until they were tattered and ragged like a small child. Or like she was their mother. In fact, I used to think we did her a great disservice by not allowing her to have puppies; she was the most maternal dog I've ever seen. But the other large lab who lived with us in those days, our Big Lug, Jackson, was fond of tearing into those stuffed animals until they were nothing more than small pieces of fluff on the rugs. So Jemima buried any stuffed animals she got her mouth on. In fact, she'd sneak up the hill to dog Dougal's house where his owner left plenty of stuffed animals around for him--more than once we had to carry one back to her and apologize for our canine thief.

But she was a smart dog. A brilliant dog, I think. And she got tired of Jackson tearing up her stuffed animals. So she buried them all over our flower gardens.  We have a whole lot of flower gardens on our lot-and-a-half-sized yard. A whole lot more than we should have, we've decided lately (but that's another story). Periodically, after burying it, and having nothing to carry around in her mouth, she'd dig one up.  And seemed to know exactly where every single one of those ratty, dirty stuffed animals were.

Even the last morning of her life (though I didn't know it was her last day), even weak as she was, I watched her sniffing and pawing a back bed, looking for exactly the right spot in which to dig. I knew what she was looking for and after she died, I was certain we'd find a stuffed animal there. I hoped we would. We certainly found them other places. For years. Once I was working on a front bed and there was the head of a teddy bear sticking up out of the soil as though it'd been sitting there waiting for me. For a while, every time we came across one, I got teary, thinking of my Beanie.

The last time we found a stuffed animal was probably two years ago now. But if I had to guess I'd say we've maybe found half a dozen in the half a dozen years since she died. And we never did find the one she was looking for that last morning.

Until yesterday.

It's been six and a half years since Beanie sniffed in the bed looking for this little bear. But Kincade found it like the hidden treasure that it was. It didn't look anything like this when he found it, of course. It was black and smelly and unrecognizable when Beve brought it to me. I knew it immediately, though. It's a very soft Gund bear, given to E on her second Easter by a college student who had seen her with a similar brown one that had lost almost all of its fur behind the ears where she always held it with two fingers. E never took to this one. She wanted "Gundo" and no other, thank-you very much. So this one was always pink and pristine...until Jemima got a hold of it and buried it who knows when.

The bear is cleaner since going through the wash but it'll never be as pink and pristine as it once was. And I'm pretty sure what it was made for, it will never be used for. This is a very, very good lesson from Beanie (and Jackson, come to think of it). Beanie didn't really want to bury all those stuffed animals. She wanted to carry them around with her. To love them. To play with them, in her canine way. Her burying them was her way of protecting them against Jackson. Her defense against them being destroyed. But in so doing, she also destroyed them. I think this is something I also do. God gives me gifts but I'm so afraid of them being destroyed that I hide them. Save them for later like butterscotch (I was going to say chocolate because it's what people always say but you'd know I was making that up--I'd give chocolate away in an instant!). This is truth that Jesus dings us about over and over in the gospel (dings in this context is a word my dad always used!)
"...Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5: 14
"No one light a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light." Luke 8: 16
"None of you lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bed. Instead you but it on its stand, so that those who come in cane see its light." Luke  11: 34

And then (Luke 19: 12-26) there's the parable of the ten Minas, where servants are told, "Take this money and put it to work." Two do so, but the third says, "Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.
What's amazing about this is that the servant had been given a very specific task, and even knowing exactly what the master was like, didn't do it, out of fear. He'd been given a treasure, but hadn't responded to the responsibility that went along with that treasure. The result was that he lost what he'd been given.

God gives us our gifts for a purpose. No, let me rephrase that, He gives us gifts for HIS purpose. For His Kingdom purpose. Not just to make us fat and happy, or rich in this world. He's about His Kingdom. And if we bury those treasures, they'll end up losing their color, their value and their usefulness. And we'll all be poorer for it. Yes, all because gifts are made for the Body and the Body is made up of this great tapestry of  gifts.

I know there are some reading this who are uncertain what your spiritual gifts are. You think it's some great mystery. But I don't think so. I'm pretty sure God has made as many gifts as He has people, and that His intention is to use us exactly as we're made. Learn who you are. Learn how you're wired. Learn what you're equipped to do. These are how He wants you to expand His Kingdom.

If you're really unclear, there are some very helpful 'lists' in the New Testament: Romans 12 might be my favorite because it is so full, and sounds less 'churchy'. But 1 Corinthians 12 is also good, and Ephesians 4 is helpful. The over-arching words of Colossians 3: 17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." And 3: 23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."


Kristina said...

Thanks for this. Fear/anxiety certainly play a role in my life. There are things I haven't done because of them.

Recovering Church Lady said...

Wonderful post and application. Our dog hides toys behind couch cushions and blankets. I actually caught her on film once as she searched the house with a ball in her mouth looking for a safe place to hide it from us.

Our personal gifts can be something unseen by crowds, not always an up front thing like singing or preaching. it is fun to watch a young person discover theirs and explore ways to be all that God designed them to be!

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Hello, I'm a new reader, and I'm glad I found your blog and your thoughtful posts. This is a wonderful story about your dog, and you make such a wonderful analogy with the way we hide our gifts. I've often struggled with trying to figure out what my gifts were and what God wanted me to do with them. So this resonated with me.