But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Matthew 6:20–21 niv
Ugh. A worm! I did a double take when I noticed it crawling up the pantry door. I grabbed a tissue, smooshed the intruder, and deposited its remains in the trash. I gave the incident no further thought—until a couple of days later when I saw two more of the same type of worm, one on the inside of the pantry door and the other on the floor. “Ewwww! More bugs!”
This was not a good sign. I had a flashback to a previous episode when ants invaded my pantry, but this invasion would be even worse if creepy crawly worms were involved. I was in a rush, though, and didn’t have time to do more than grab a tissue, squish the two worms, and throw them away. In the back of my mind, I made a mental note: After Christmas, clean out the pantry!
A few more days flew by, and holiday preparations and shopping and cleaning and gift wrapping consumed my time. I hadn’t been paying much attention to my pantry because I was buying more fast food than usual. But once I opened the pantry door, I was startled by a moth that was perched on the wall above some boxes! “Yuck, what are you doing in here?” I said, and went for a tissue.
I had a bad feeling that there might be a connection between the creepy worms and the moth . . . but I still didn’t want to deal with the implications of that thought. I closed the pantry door and assured myself, “Soon” I’ll examine my pantry more carefully and clear out any “problem.”
That evening, my sixteen-year-old daughter went to look for a snack. “Mom!” she shrieked when she spied a worm crawling on a bag of chips! Her alarm shook the whole house. “There’s a larva of some sort in the pantry!”
My teenage daughter had identified what I’d failed to confront—the worms I’d been avoiding were moth larvae! Now I had no choice but to inspect the cabinet thoroughly and deal with whatever I found. Did I mention it was 10:15 at night?
The next two hours were disgusting! I pulled on some plastic gloves and emptied the shelves in the pantry. A raging infestation of moth larvae wriggled on three of the five shelves. Grabbing a large garbage bag I filled it with ruined boxes of cereal, baking mixes, flour, sugar, and more. Some of my staples were stored in airtight plastic containers, but larva had crawled into the crevices of the lids and made cocoons! Others had attached to the outsides of boxes and bags. The two moths we’d seen were evidently the first to hatch, and there would’ve been hundreds over the next week or so.
Two hours and four garbage bags later, my pantry was empty and the shelves wiped clean with ammonia. The task would’ve taken much longer, but my fourteen-year-old son volunteered to help out. He actually had fun talking to the worms—just before spraying and killing them!
I piled the few unharmed items—canned goods and a few unopened airtight products—on my kitchen island, planning to leave the pantry bare for several days to make sure no more larvae were hiding out. Then I’d lay down fresh shelving paper before restocking. I was glad this all happened about a week before Christmas, instead of on Christmas Eve when I had to entertain family.
At 1:00 a.m., I hopped into the shower to wash off the smell of ammonia—and any stray larvae. Exhausted, I prayed, “God, why did this have to happen? What could you possibly teach me from this?”
Immediately I felt God reply, “I’m glad you asked!”
I then saw an analogy.
The larvae could be compared to bad habits—let’s say, becoming lazy with my regular quiet time. Like one little larva in the pantry, skipping one day of quiet time didn’t seem to be any big deal. “Lord, You know how busy I’ve been! Just this one day . . . I’ll make up the time tomorrow.”
Two little larvae in the pantry, two more days of neglecting God’s Word were a more significant warning. “Lord, I miss our time together, but after the holidays, I promise, I’ll get back on track.” Left to its own end, though, laziness can become a whole pantry full of grief! By neglecting time with God, my life could become infested with little worms of negativism, self-centeredness, impatience, and irritability. That’s where I was headed if I didn’t do something about my increasing bad habit of laziness.
But it wasn’t just a bad habit. Like I avoided admitting that the worms in the pantry could be larvae, I avoided naming my laziness as sin.
Right there in the shower, I prayed. “God, forgive me. I’ve been sinning in my lax attitude about our quiet time together. I’m sorry, and I pray that You’ll help me to do better, starting today.”
With that, I felt renewed. I spent the rest of the Christmas season with a fresh spiritual commitment—and a fresh clean pantry, too.
God has blessed you forever. —Psalm 45:2 niv
Your reservation is under ‘Don,’” the restaurant hostess announced with a bright smile. “We should have a table for you in about ten minutes.”
I sure hoped so. We eat at fine restaurants only on very special occasions, and today was one of them. It was lunchtime the day after Valentine’s Day, and we were celebrating our anniversary.
But only half of my mind was celebrating; the other half was taken up with problems. Bathroom problems. Bad ones. Don had worked on our guest bathroom that morning, using plunger, drain cleaner, and all the rest without success. We needed a plumber. That meant megabucks. Sigh.
After about twenty minutes, the hostess called, “Don, table for two.” We jumped up—just in time to see another couple hurry off with our waiter.
Puzzled and a bit put out, I asked the hostess, “Excuse me, but did you have two Dons on the waiting list?”
She glanced at her list. “Oh, dear. That call was for you. John must have thought it was for him. Don’t worry; we’ll get you a table.”
Which they did—another twenty minutes later. And after a few bites of steaming chicken pot pie, I quit being so bent out of shape.
After lunch, we headed to a shopping mall to look for my anniversary present—a pair of shoes. That might not sound particularly romantic, but I have horrible bunions—calloused and misshapen—from too many years of too-tight high heels. The bunions are so awful that my grandson Daniel asked, “Grandma, are your feet growing thumbs on the side?”
So my one request for an anniversary present was to shop for shoes. And as much as Don hates shopping, he agreed to come along.
The first mall we went to was closed due to construction. The second one was packed, forcing us to park in practically the next county. By the time we reached the mall my feet hurt, and I needed to use the ladies’ room. So, it seemed, did dozens of other shoppers, most with little children. The line to the bathroom stretched down a hallway.
Finally, it was my turn. As I left the stall, I held open the door and looked around, “Anyone need this?”
Just then a mother rushed in with a little boy. She flashed me a smile. “Thanks!”
“Hey!” another woman shouted and flew across the room. Her arms were full of shopping bags. “I was here first! Get out!” She raised her bundles as if she were about to whop the child on the head. “It’s mine! Now get out!”
I’d never heard such screaming and cursing. Finally, she flounced into another stall and slammed the door shut.
I rushed out of there, completely disgusted by the whole affair. “Honestly, God. This is supposed to be my anniversary. Why are You putting me through all this? All I want is a happy, uneventful day.”
When I arrived at the shoe department, I wandered from table to table and shelf to shelf. I didn’t expect much, knowing that my bunions would make a good fit nearly impossible. Yet, while Don sat waiting patiently, I got excited as I cruised the shelves. Soon my arms were full, and I sat down by Don.
I could hardly believe it. Out of the pile I’d collected, I found six pairs that fit. Six pairs! I’d never had that many pairs of new shoes in my entire life! “Look, Don!” I cried happily. “They’re all on sale. I’m going to take them all!” Then I took back the other ones I’d tried on and rejected.
When I returned, an attractive young blond sat by my husband, chatting away. Her eyes sparkled and her smile lit up the whole area. For just a moment I was jealous—until I realized she wasn’t in a chair, but in a wheelchair. It turns out, she had multiple sclerosis, and her doctor had told her that she could never walk again. But her disease hadn’t kept her from being enthusiastic about her work, her family, and life itself.
Leaving her and Don in deep conversation, I gathered up the shoes I wanted and headed for the counter. But when my clerk went to check on a price, another clerk grabbed the cash register and entered someone else’s purchases on my bill. What a mess! And on top of that, a third salesperson had taken my shoes and put them back on the shelves. By the time I got everything straightened out, I was burning. I stomped away with my bags to find Don and get out of there.
He was still talking to the young lady. Turning to me, she said, “I understand you’ve both had serious health problems. But look at you . . . here on your anniversary, enjoying life and each other. Isn’t God wonderful?”
Still grumpy, I retorted, “Wonderful? I’ve just spent thirty minutes straightening out a mess, and all because of my stupid bunions.”
At that, she grinned and kicked off her shoes. “I know just what you mean,” she said.
I gasped. Young as she was, her bunions were far worse than mine.
“Be thankful for your blessings,” she said.
Boy, did God ever convict me just then. I’d let my feelings of frustration overwhelm me. Never once did I think of all the blessings that God has shown me—having Don at my side ten years after his major heart attack, His healing me of cancer, giving us forty-five years of togetherness and love. Instead, I’d concentrated on the ugliness of life. I needed a heart change—a blessing awareness change.
Next time I start moaning about my lot in life, I’ll remember I have bunions, but I can walk. I may feel ill, but my cancer is cured. I may feel unappreciated at times, but I’ve been married to a wonderful man for forty-five years.
In order to appreciate my blessings, I must have a heart willing to recognize them. A soft and willing heart pleases God, because He wants nothing more than to bless us forever.