Birthday Letters and Treasures in Jars of Clay

I got to celebrate my birthday with my husband and son over the weekend. The day was wonderful, starting with a decadent breakfast of chocolate gem donuts and an assortment of fruit and ending with dinner at the Olive Garden and a free dessert of Italian donuts which we ate at a nearby outdoor café later that evening.

Each moment of the day was special to me, but the one I had most anticipated was reading a letter I had written to myself a year earlier.

This is something I have been doing for over a decade now. I scrummage in my desk drawers and/or closet for the letter I wrote to myself a year prior, then I head to the local Starbucks for my free birthday drink and a quiet table where I can read the letter and reflect on what the last year meant to me.

When I write these letters, I include a word that I believe will have described the year. I also talk about the possibilities of the year and ponder what may have become of them at the time I am reading the letter.

Most times, I forget what I have written in the letters, so I am able to read the letter with fresh eyes and to feel encouraged by what I wrote. This year, however, I remembered one crucial element about the letter by June. It was the word for the year—treasure.

In the moment of remembering it, I honestly felt disappointed. I had really hoped to treasure my family more and to find treasure in everyday life at the beginning of the year. And yet here I was, not doing any of that. I was really just trying to survive. Life was hard, and although I still had my family and many blessings, I found it hard to find treasure in the midst of our current circumstances.

Months later, however, I heard a radio personality from KLOVE say something that got me to thinking that perhaps treasure was an appropriate word for the year after all.

The DJ quoted the following Bible verse:

And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you…”

Deuteronomy 26:18

As I started to think more about last year and all the hardships we faced as a family in light of this verse, it made me think that perhaps I hadn’t written the word “treasure” in vain because perhaps God had set out to make me a treasure this last year.

Many earthly treasures go through some sort of refining process in order to truly become a treasure. Gold and silver must be put to the fire in order to remove the dross, and diamonds and rubies have to face a great amount of heat and pressure in order to become a gem.

So perhaps this last year was meant to be a refining year for me—one that would place me in the fire and make me face great heat and pressure so that I could become a treasure to God, a “royal diadem” in His hand (Isaiah 62:3).

I look back over last year and have to confess that I don’t see much of a treasure in me. I just see the dross. But just as a true goldsmith sees unrefined gold and knows he is holding something of value, I believe that God is holding me and sees something of value in me—the treasure of His Son Jesus. And just as the goldsmith must rid the gold of its dross so that others can see its worth, God has been and is working in me to bring my “dross” to the surface and to rid me of it so that others can see this treasure of His Son in me.

As I think about this, all I can ask for is that I would never grow tired of the process of being refined when God places me in it. If we have this treasure in “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7), it’s worth going through the refining process to let Him be seen and to make Him known. I recognize that it doesn’t necessarily make the process of refining easier. But it makes it worth it. It makes it oh so worth it! Let’s continue to press on and to press in to Him!

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