A devotional by JJ Gutierrez
I sat quietly and stared at the glass cabinet that set on the back wall of my dining room. This cabinet housed a special treasure of mine. A treasured I inherited nearly thirteen years ago from my grandmother. A treasure that beheld heartfelt memories and I was sure the safest place for it was on the shelf, behind the glass where no one could accidentally break it. This treasure, much like a chest filled with gold, diamonds, and colorful gems, came in many vibrant hues too. Some with beautifully painted elaborate flowers; others with a simple but elegant design. My favorite one was part of a set…six small teacups and one teapot. On the front of each cup was a swan peacefully resting in the water. Grandma used to fill my little cup with tea, ice water, or on occasion, she would surprise me with soda pop. Many days were spent at her oak kitchen table giggling, chatting, and maybe even shedding a tear or two while we sipped from her antique collection of teacups.
As I pondered those precious memories I continued starring at the cabinet. I thought about the tea party I was hosting. It was a celebration with my mother-daughter tween bible study group and I wanted the afternoon to be extra special. Building a strong mother-daughter bond is especially important to me because I have three daughters of my own and I didn’t have a deep connection with my mother. My heart’s desire is that every little girl would know and feel the love and support of her mom–that she is important and worth spending time with–that she is a gift from God and a blessing. Sharing my treasured teacups with them would mean all those things and more.
However, since grandma went to heaven these cups have never left their home in the glass cabinet. Occasionally I take them out to clean off the dust and I’ve packed them up a few times during a move to a new house, but mostly they just sit lifelessly. No new memories of laughter, conversation, or tears. The thought of pulling my treasure out of the cabinet felt scary, but the more I stared at them the more they begged to be used. I wondered how I would feel if one slipped off the table to its fatal ending. Would I mourn the loss of grandma again or would I shed tears of something I could never get back? It was going to take courage to put this precious possession on the table for the mother-daughter tea party.
The day came for the gathering. I decorated the table with a burlap table cloth, floral place settings, and all the necessities for a tea party — plates, spoons, tea bags, and of course, sweet treats. I glanced one again at the cabinet where my treasures rested and considered what my grandmother would want me to do. Would she want them kept safe in the cabinet or would she want me to share the teacups with these precious girls and their moms? The answer to that question was easy and without hesitation, I picked them up one by one, washed them off, and set them carefully at each place setting.
The table was perfect, and when the girls and their moms arrived we sat around the table sipping tea, laughing, sharing, and connecting. As I surveyed the room it was then I realized I had mistaken what the treasure was all these years. My grandmother’s teacups weren’t the gold coins in the treasure chest. The treasure was the person holding the teacup, the conversation that was taking place, and the gift of time that was being given to each other as we slowly sipped tea. I was taken back by emotion and it reminded me `of the Bible verse: “Don’t store up your treasure here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your heart is,
there your treasure will be.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT.)
I’d wasted over thirteen years trying to keep my teacups safe because I thought they were the treasure. But the true treasure is not found in earthly, perishable things; my grandmother’s teacups will not stand the test of time nor pass from this life into eternity. My heart was misplaced and I was focused on the physical cups. I was missing out on the true treasure my grandmother had given me: her time. That day I learned those brewing flavorful tea leaves, adding sugar and honey, stirring, and sipping with my bible study group was a method to facilitating the ever-lasting treasure of building relationships. There is no measurement great enough to adequately size up the value of strengthening the mother-daughter bond. Each sweet little girl and her mom — they are the eternal treasures who are loved dearly by God Himself, and I am filled with joy that my grandmother’s teacups could participate in such a life-giving day. Letting go and having the courage to share my grandmother’s antique teacup collection revealed that the treasure my grandmother left me was so much more than pretty cups in a cabinet! The legacy she left me was that of sharing, caring, and loving — treasures that can never be stolen away, broken, or destroyed.
What treasure have you kept tucked away because you’re afraid to use it? Will you have the courage to pull it out today? There might be a greater, eternal treasure awaiting you…will you have the courage to find out?