by Angie Thomas

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:45-46).

I desperately want to find the pearls of the kingdom of heaven, but I confess that I am still haunted by those darn plastic pearls resting under my white-knuckled grip.  You see, this is at least the fourth time I have taken this study and heard the story of the pearls, and every time I am smacked in the face with the reality that I am still clinging with a death-grip to some of those cheap, imitation treasures…pride, control, self, just to name a few.

As Laurie told the story of the little girl and her father the other night, I could feel the tension and the angst. The little girl so desperately wanted to trust her father’s intentions as he asked for her plastic pearls, and yet she struggled with the confusion of why he would ask for something that meant so much to her.

Do you feel that tension in your relationship with your heavenly Father?  I do… constantly.  I wrestle with the question of why a good and caring Father would ask me to continually surrender things that I hold dear to my heart and help me to feel safe and secure.  My dreams, desires, possessions, and way of doing things all seem right and good and supported by the culture around me.

But just like the dress that has gone viral on social media, it seems to all boil down to perspective.  Our heavenly Father in all of His infinite wisdom and understanding has a much different vantage point on our precious pearls than we do.  They are deceiving and confusing because they do provide us fulfillment…even if it is temporary or fleeting, and so we think, “These are great. Why would I give up something so wonderful…especially if it makes me feel happy?”  And yet our Father stands waiting patiently, whispering to our hearts that there is something more…there is real, lasting joy and peace…the true authentic pearls Christ has to offer…but we fear instead and keep our white-knuckled grip.

If we say we love Jesus, we must courageously acknowledge this fear we have of letting go and surrendering our lives to Jesus.  We must ask Him to give us faith and grace to believe what He said in Matthew 16:25 (with the idea repeated in all the other Gospels as well): For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I am so thankful for this body of believers who are willing to confess their fears and together pursue the kingdom of heaven and ultimately Jesus, the only pearl of eternal value that is true, authentic, and beautiful.

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