The value of something is in what it costs you to get it, but the trick is to guard your heart so that you do not despise what you have purchased for the sacrifice it cost.
I once read a story* of a boy who was drawn into a jewelry store by curiosity. Once inside, he perused the engagement rings, marveling at their beauty. One ring above all others caught his eye, for when he saw it, it was as though he saw in a vision the image of his future wife.
Immediately, he spoke with the doubtful owner to arrange layaway payments until the ring was paid for in full. The owner hesitantly agreed—but only with the understanding that one missed payment would forfeit all previous payments and break the deal.
This boy then tirelessly worked, sometimes taking more than one job, forsaking time with friends, all for the sake of this ring and what it meant to him. No matter how weary he became, the vision of his future wife carried him on.
Years later, the day came when the boy made his last payment, and the owner threw him a party to celebrate the accomplishment. Not long after, he met the woman he had seen in that vision so many times throughout those years. At the right time, he gave her this precious ring—bought with money, yes, but also with patience, tears, and sacrifice.
He could have become discouraged during the long years of making payments, even growing to despise the ring for what it cost him, but he didn’t.
God teaches us this lesson through Israel in the wilderness, in that He commanded that a jar of manna be kept in the Ark of the Covenant. The manna was a testimony of God’s provision and faithfulness, even though the testimony was bought with toilsome monotony.
The point is that Israel could look at the manna and have two responses—they could either be repulsed by the memory of the wilderness and the difficulty of those years, or they could remember it as the testimony it truly was.
What are you facing right now? Is there a journey on which God has been taking you? What is the dream God has placed in your heart and what have you sacrificed to accomplish it?
God wants to help you fulfill your dreams and lead you into your Promised Land. And if we will choose to guard our hearts, then the testimonies of His faithfulness will deeply knit our hearts to His and our memories will be of His goodness, rather than of the difficulties of life.
*story adapted from Purity: The New Moral Revolution by Kris Vallotton.