Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
He knew what he wanted. He knew nothing else could compare, and thus nothing else was worth striving toward. All else could be counted as loss for this great treasure.
This pearl has a uniqueness to all who would dare to purchase it. It never looks the same to anyone, but it is eternally beautiful, undisputedly worthwhile. So it would seem to anyone with eyes to see. But it takes courage to take that step of faith in eliminating the distractions that would keep the man from the pearl.
After all, if one sells all he has for one thing, how might he continue life as before? It would certainly not be the same. Nothing can be the same. What shall he wear? Where shall he sleep? What shall he eat? A pearl cannot be eaten! It might accent a nice garment, but it would look quite silly with no other clothes, and it would not be the most comfortable of pillows. No, to sell all one has to pursue this pearl is strange indeed. Even if it’s financially profitable, it seems impossible in practice.
So I sit. I know the pearl is out there. I’ve glimpsed it. It is no ordinary pearl… it radiates, it glows. It shows scenes of greatness… like a crystal ball that foretells future greatness. But it is no parlor trick. This pearl brings that greatness of lore. That greatness that the human heart was destined to pursue. Something happened along the journey for mankind. The pearl was buried long ago, but the treasure map is written on our hearts.
Oh, I know the pearl is there. But do I even want to find it? If I did, could I afford it? It tells stories of life, yes, but it also forecasts death. Remember, if one buys this pearl… there can be nothing else.
What a cost. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” Luke 14:28-32.
This cost is beyond what I can count.
Still, I want that pearl.
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:18-25
This story is so many of ours. We can drown ourselves in material to keep us from experiencing what is real. We think that what is material is what is real. To purchase the pearl is to embrace what is beyond us. It is to acknowledge that we cannot be who we were made to be on our own accord. For some it is alcohol, for some it is video games, for some it is the American Dream, but for all… it is a nightmare of materialism.
God calls us to awaken from this dream state, to awaken from our stupor. To be so in love with God that nothing else matters is not foolishness; it is sobriety itself.
I want to live. I want to be who he has made me to be. I’m not sure what that entails yet. But it’s going to cost a lot. Remember the tower builder and the king who was going to war? You know what Jesus said right before that?
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27
But what have I to fear? Do I need a pillow? Do I need clothes? Do I need anything but Him?
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Often, I’ve wondered if I should sell all and see what God would do. I don’t think I’m supposed to do that just yet, but in truth I’m both terrified and hopeful that he will. Will I have the courage when he calls for it? I want that pearl.
To be continued…