This treasure keeps our vision clear
The gospel is a lifelong treasure that keeps us focused on Jesus.
Kevin P. Westra
I used to live near the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. When I first moved there and drove around the area and gazed at the beauty of God’s creation, I remember thinking to myself, I will never get used to seeing this beautiful scenery. I was surprised when lifelong residents didn’t share my excitement at seeing the mountains every day. I promised myself it would never happen to me. Well, after a few years of living there, the mountains were still there every day, and they were just as beautiful as always. But I didn’t always notice them.
A missing treasure
Can something like this happen to us when it comes to the gospel? Many of us grew up in Christian homes. We don’t really know a life that doesn’t have the beautiful treasure of the gospel in it. It is certainly a wonderful blessing. But it can also be something that Satan uses against us. It’s always there, always has been, always will be. We take it for granted.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate that treasure until it is gone. Paul and Betty joined a WELS mission church in southeast Ohio. At one of their first Sundays there, the pastor announced that he was taking a call to another church. They liked the church and prayed that when a new pastor came he would preach that same gospel message that brought them there in the first place. They were not disappointed. Paul and Betty continued to worship there for many years.
Changes in life—getting older and retirement—led them to move away from that town. They found a new home in a retirement village in another town. There was no WELS church nearby. They went to a church in town, one that was a denomination that they had been involved with in the past. Though they tried it for a while, they realized something was missing. Unfortunately, it was the clear preaching of the gospel. They were used to hearing about their sin problem and the only solution to that problem—their Savior—week after week. They were no longer hearing the message that for so many years had kept their vision clear and their life and hearts focused on Jesus. Instead they heard a lot of talk about society and politics. Something they were used to hearing every time they went to church was missing. The treasure of the gospel was no longer there.
A treasured message
The idea of living out their golden years without this treasure was both unappealing and scary.
They called their former WELS pastor and said, “What do we do? We live over two hours away from you, and we aren’t getting the gospel here.” The pastor told them that they lived 60 miles away from another WELS church. Would they be willing to make that drive? They tried it out, and they found out the drive was worth it. They came almost every Sunday for a while, then age made it harder for them to make that drive so they tried to come on Communion Sundays. Eventually age made that drive too much as well, and they became shut-in members. But they were thankful to have a pastor and a vicar who regularly visited them with Word and sacrament and kept their eyes on the treasure of Jesus their Savior.
During those years many situations developed in their lives. They had an adult son who lived only a few miles from their new church. He started coming, eventually took classes, and became a member. Shortly after that he was diagnosed with cancer, which eventually took his life. Another son who lived in a different state lost his job and his wife left him. He moved to Ohio with his parents and began looking to start a new life. He was then diagnosed with leukemia. He has since been baptized and started taking instruction classes. He continues his health battle. One year ago, Betty started having some serious health issues, and God called her home.
Paul continues to get older, and his body is wearing down. He has moved to an assisted living home and has plans to move across the courtyard to a place that offers more care if he needs it and God continues to bless him with more days.
On one of my visits with Paul, we were discussing all the challenges he has faced in his life. He made the comment, “I don’t know how anyone deals with all these things without Christ in their life. How do you deal with things like cancer, death, job loss, divorce, sin, and guilt without knowing Jesus? How do you live without that treasure?”
A clear vision
Paul and Betty’s life story is not much different from your story. Some of us may have more hardships in our life and some may have less. But we all deal with life and everything that comes with it. The longer we live here, the more challenges it seems we have to face. What a blessing it is to have the treasure of the gospel as we deal with all the things that life can throw at us. It keeps our vision clear. The Scriptures remind us so clearly, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author of our faith and the one who brings it to its goal” (Hebrews 12:2 Evangelical Heritage Version). We know life can be hard sometimes. But what a treasure it is to know that our sins are forgiven, our hardships here on earth are only temporary, and we have a home waiting for us in heaven. When we keep our eyes on Jesus and the treasure of the gospel, our vision is clear. In all of life’s ups and downs, the gospel keeps reminding us of the beautiful treasures we have in Jesus.
Fourteen years after moving away from the mountains, I still miss them. The first several months that I lived in Ohio I would find myself looking toward the western sky, hoping to see the mountains. They still haven’t shown up. I didn’t always appreciate them when I could. Don’t let that happen with the treasure of the gospel. God’s gospel gift is here for you. It is here to keep your vision clear and to keep your eyes focused on your Savior, Jesus.
As you think about what that treasure means to you, remember there are people who don’t know the message of their Savior. That treasure that is here for you is also a treasure to share with others.
Kevin Westra is pastor at Beautiful Savior, Grove City, Ohio.
This is the fourth article in a six-part series on the power of the gospel.
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Author: Kevin P. Westra
Volume 105, Number 8
Issue: August 2018
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