Last week the fish and chip shop in Woolpit re-opened, much to the relief of many. I had my first proper piece of fish since the lock down began, this weekend – a really glorious piece of cod – and it was good to see the shop working safely and well. They put a fortune cookie into my bag, along the fish and chips, and having eaten my fish I opened it. The tiny slip of paper said, ‘You will make a prosperous investment.’ My initial reaction was that it was a typical Chinese fortune cookie with a motto about money, and a highly unlikely future for me – as I don’t make financial investments. That first response was immediately followed by the blinding awareness that there are more than finances that are invested.
I made the most important investment of my life when, at the age of 19, I committed my life to following Jesus. It hasn’t always been a smooth path from then on but, although it may have meant that I am not as financially well off as I could have been, it was and is the most prosperous investment I could have ever made. I have all the wealth that I need, for all time, stored in perfect security and where no fluctuations of the stock market are going to affect its value. In Matthew’s gospel, during the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth where moths and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where no thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ (Matthew 6: 19 – 21)
I think that it is a treasure that more and more people are coming to find is the only one of permanence during this time of lockdown. Investments in friendship, in community and in caring for the vulnerable are seen as having real and lasting value. Of course money matters profoundly and my heart and prayers go out to those whose jobs are insecure, whose firms are going to the wall and all who are fearful of a future of unemployment and debt. In the months and years to come we will have to as concerned and caring about them as we are of those who today are vulnerable to the virus. But at this time we need to really be thinking about the investments that will make us truly prosperous. Investments into loving the Lord and serving him, loving our neighbour – who ever and where ever s/he is – and caring for our fragile world with its damaged environment. You see, we have a God who invested into us. He invested his son, allowing him to be incarnate, to live a human life and die a painful death so that we may know just how loved we are. That was a serious investment – and one that God declares as prosperous as he sees us turning to him and giving our lives into his care.
The Chinese fortune cookie really did know my past and my future – it did, for a moment, seem facile, but actually spoke a profound truth. I have made my life an investment in the love of God and I reap the reward daily, in knowing that I am never alone, that his Spirit guides me and that one day I will find my home in him, secure forever. I pray that you too will be able to rest in your investment in the Lord and know that, as his precious child, you are rich beyond measure.
A prayer for others to find the way to God, in these troubling times:
Lord Jesus, we pray for those who are troubled today,
those worried about money, those looking for work,
those who don’t feel safe.
May they find in you a way forward.
We pray for those whose journey of life is testing,
those who live in places of violence,
those who are a long way from family,
those whose health is fragile.
May they find in you a place to rest.
We pray for those who feel unwanted,
those who have left their countries,
those who live on city streets, those who are neglected.
May they find in you a welcome.
Lord Jesus, we pray for all places of need,
and all people in trouble.
As we make room for them in our prayers,
may we make room for them in our lives. Amen.