A sound investment in ‘charcoal’

[notice] A fortnightly column by Anna Heydenrych[/notice]

When I was a young girl, my best friend and I once developed a notion that braai charcoal had the potential to transform into diamonds. I suppose we heard about how coal, buried deep within the earth and subjected to immense pressure over thousands of years, is the origin of these sparkly jewels. We had never seen this sort of coal, but assumed it to be the same as the charcoal our dads used to make fires. And so, as any forward-thinking young eight-year-olds would, we began a collection of the specimens that displayed any sign of potential diamond transformation.

We could see a shininess developing on some of them, and this indicated that the process was in motion. We understood that it would take many years for the complete conversion from braai starter to priceless jewel, so we chatted about how we would keep them for our children and even grandchildren one day. We were however eager to make a quick profit, and so set up shop on the verge outside one of our parents’ homes, flogging our collection of leftover pieces of charcoal as sound investments. Curious passersby were enthusiastically informed of how, for a small price, they could buy a piece of charcoal that was clearly showing signs of becoming a diamond. If they were to be patient and wait a few years, they would be rich! I suppose we made a few rand, purely for being cute.

Jesus said we should store up our treasure in Heaven. This is sometimes hard for us to do, as we like to see our treasure, and for now, we can’t see Heaven. It’s a bit like owning a piece of charcoal and believing that, one day, somehow, beyond earthly reason, it will transform into a diamond. If we don’t really believe it, we will throw it away and replace it with what we can see now. We might even use all our resources on earth to buy treasure that we can see immediately. Jesus tells us, however, that this kind of treasure is unreliable, “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable” (1 Timothy 6:17). He wants us to store our treasure where ‘moth and rust do not destroy’ (Matthew 6:20).

I believe this to be true, but I need to challenge myself to be obedient to this even when I do not fully understand. I can do this by making my choices during my time on this earth with an eternal perspective in mind. The enemy will gladly try to trade my precious collection of braai charcoal for what looks shiny in the here and now, but I will never part with it because I believe what Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28).

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