A few years ago I learned a great lesson about valuable things when Paige and I were at the beach with my family for vacation. On that trip, I decided to go out into the ocean. I was by myself, as the rest of the group decided to stay pool-side. For whatever reason there were not a lot of people in the water that day, maybe due to the waves being a bit too strong for most. But I decided I would take my raft and get out past where the waves were breaking to enjoy being out in the ocean. I had with me three things - my raft (valued at about $20), my cap (maybe worth $10), and my prescription sunglasses (ummm... prescription glasses cost quite a bit more than the other two items I had with me).
And as my vision is VERY BAD without my glasses, these glasses were extremely valuable to me. (To give you an idea, at my arm's length of less than 24", I cannot read a single word of a newspaper, other than perhaps some of the large headlines). However, I did not have any type of cord or strap around my glasses, so yes, you are correct - I shouldn't have been wearing my glasses into the ocean, but my pride and ego said to me, "It won't be a problem. You can handle this. You'll be careful with them."
(Since I'm sure that your vision is better than mine, you can already see where this is going!)
So I got out past the breaking waves being very careful with my valuable glasses. "See, I told you it would be fine to bring your only means of clear vision out here in the raging ocean. What were you ever worried about?"
After spending about an hour out there on the large waves, I decided to head back in. Laying on the raft, I started swimming it back to shore, and made it to where it looked like I could stand up. I began to slide off of the raft to put my feet down, but just before they touched the sand, a huge wave rolled in from behind and broke at just the right time, slamming into me and knocking me off my feet into the churning surf. Instinctively, my left hand grabbed onto the raft cord to keep it from being dragged away from me and with my right hand I quickly reached out to grab... my hat.
Yep. My hat.
NOT my glasses.
When you always wear glasses, you can forget that you are wearing glasses - they are necessary and just become a part of who you are, since they are necessary for functioning. And so while I was careful when going into the ocean with them, after being in the ocean for an hour, they just became commonplace, and in my forgetfulness... I failed to grab onto the most valuable thing I had with me.
As I came up out of the surf, I looked around me and... I couldn't see. My prescription sunglasses had been knocked off my face in water that was a little more than waist-deep in the Gulf of Mexico. (As in water that is waist deep at the lowest point between the waves). And I couldn't see to find them. So my immediate thought was to stay in the area and keep looking - to not let my feet get moved and to look for "dark" spots on the ocean floor and see if one could possibly be my glasses. The only problem... the waves kept breaking on me and pushing me away from the spot.
I was having no luck, and I thought, well maybe the breaking surf was pushing the glasses further inland anyway, so I tried to walk to the shore in a fairly straight line - again looking for the dark spots. I found a few dark spots, but it turned out to be a piece of wood or a piece of shell or a live sand-dollar. I made it all the way to the shore. And found no glasses. I had my hat and raft - the wrong things, the less valuable things. I had grabbed onto the wrong things instead of focusing on protecting the most important thing.
Many times, we Christ-followers are a lot like I was in the ocean. We hold onto the less valuable things and forget about that which is most important. We focus on selfish things, and forget about the treasures that God has placed around us (as in, other people). We focus on exalting self (which basically does nothing for anyone other than making us feel good temporarily), when we should be focused on exalting God (which benefits everyone around us including self).
Well, I am standing on the shore, mostly blind, with my raft and my hat. The glasses have been somewhere on the bottom of the Gulf for more than 5 minutes now. They have been pushed who knows where by the continued crashing of the waves, and I have no way of knowing exactly where I was when they were knocked off my head. There is no way for me to find these glasses again, but I go ahead and pray for the impossible: "God, there is no way I can find these glasses on my own, but You know how valuable they are to me. I sure wish You would allow me to do the impossible."
And I began to walk back out into the ocean in a straight line toward the horizon, having no idea if I am walking anywhere near where I was before, since the waves had also been moving me. I go out looking for dark spots. I don't see a single dark spot on my way out, until I get out to the water that is just over waist deep. And there I see my first and only dark spot, so I dive under the water to investigate.
I open my eyes under the water... and there are my sunglasses!
Lightning quick, I immediately grab them, and come up out of the water with waves still breaking. But this time, I don't put them back on my face. I hold them tightly in both hands. I no longer considered them "commonplace." I considered them to be of the most EXTREME value at that point. I did not put them back on until I was completely out of the water.
I experienced a miracle in that God granted my impossible request, and in doing so helped me to "see" what was of real value. He reminded me to hold on tightly to those things that He said were treasures - the people He has created. To not think of them as commonplace, but as the most important things in life.
My prayer for myself and for you is that we will see what is of great value to God - it is other people. All other things are replaceable like my raft and my hat - of very little value when compared to the thing of most value. Just like my raft and hat should have been the last things I clung to, everything else in this life besides our relationships to others should be held to loosely. We are to see this world as He sees it - with love and compassion for every other person in our path - EVERY other person in our path.
And we are to do our best to treat them as of infinite value, because they are the only things on this earth that will last for eternity. Their eternity will be in either Heaven or Hell, and we have the knowledge of how to move them out of Hell and into Heaven. Therefore, it is our calling to see them as valuable for His Kingdom.
Hold on tightly to the only things of value in this world -- the people that God has placed near you -- so that you can lead them to Him. And hold loosely to everything else.