A time to lose, a time to gain

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21

Now I understand what Jesus meant when He said: ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

My 2012 seemed perfect, so unforgettable and dotted with many surprises, that I called it my ‘miracle year.’ In 2012, I graduated with a Master’s degree from a prestigious university, landed a professorial job, and participated in an international youth program in Japan and Southeast Asia.

Blessings poured in, one after another. As the year drew to a close, I listed down seven of my best achievements that year, making 2012 my miracle year. Looking back on the path that I just traversed, I suddenly realized that out of seven, only 1 was about a personal relationship, everything was about my ‘personal achievements.’

My life was filled with I, me, my, and myself. Perhaps, I had become too self-focused, to the extent of desiring more achievements to gain more; Sadly, I began to lose much along the way.

But it’s not yet late. In the first month of new year, 2013 the Lord has certainly made me realize that there’s much to learn and experience in life than many more to get.

Recently, my laptop and ipad 2 were stolen from my table at the Department of Social Sciences in UP Los Banos, where I work as a young professor. Combined, the two units cost almost Php 80,000 – an expensive amount for someone who earns a modest monthly income. To be honest, that roughly accounts for my three-month net salary.

For weeks, I had a very heavy heart. I had been very attached to the units. For one, that laptop was a gift from my younger brother who works hard abroad. It has great sentimental value. There are also very important data and precious photos saved in it. The ipad 2 on the other hand was a gift from my parents which makes it very special.

But what can I do? They’re gone. I did everything I could do to recover the units – went to the police, to the Chancellor, to the authorities, and all possible channels.  It’s been three weeks now and the investigation continues, or so the authorities say. Perhaps, I’m just another victim of relatively loose security in the campus and some close-minded people in the University who insist that closing the campus to the public defies its openness as the people’s university. Although I respect that view, I do not share such perspective and actually strongly oppose such narrow mindset.

I can only do so much. After all, my voice is but another whisper compared to the other issues that they need to attend to. Still, I whisper “Please tighten the security in Los Banos. The campus and its surroundings have become a dirty playground to criminals lurking in the dark, waiting for their next prey.”

A few days after the loss, I felt very depressed. But it was during those days when rays of soft light and warm comfort blanketed my cold and exhausted soul. I returned to God’s Word. I still get amazed when the Lord speaks to me in silence, and when His Spirit brings me to verses that soothe my troubled heart and mind. I just cried out to Him, and surrendered all the worries and pain. As the song goes, “You won’t give me what I can’t bear.”

With the loss of my units, I gained much. Foremost of these is the realization of one big truth – that God is more than enough; more costly than silver or gold, or any treasure untold, as the song goes. And as He always reminds me of, “Do not worry.” It won’t add an inch of respite to life. Second, when everyone seemed too far or when they simply reacted to the loss, my family provided affection and acceptance. Indeed, their warm support pacified me. Third, material things are temporal; anytime, we may lose them. What cannot be lost are ones invested in eternity, including relationships anchored in love.

When extraordinarily good things happen, we mention of miracles. But have we also thought of what actually exist before any miracle happens? Crises, heavy burdens, and deep sorrows all existed before Jesus changed things extraordinarily, and gloriously. I may have lost ‘much’ as it is understood by the world, but His Spirit has sowed in my heart one important thing, and as I traverse a new path, I believe I will gain much than many through that essential reminder: give more to gain much more. I don’t refer to material things, friends. I refer to investing on things that are unseen, but felt. I will act on it.

Even if I lose many, I may gain much. Material things come and go; but spiritual ones, invested in His Kingdom, will surely last for eternity.

Yes, Php 80,000 worth was stolen from me. But the enemy cannot steal my love for God. Instead, my faith has become stronger, and my perspective on ‘being rich in life’ changed significantly. I now have a renewed mindset. More importantly, I have gained priceless and precious moments again with the Lord (importantly), with my family, and real friends.

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