Where Do You Keep Your Hope Chest?

Emily Lewis   |   February 19, 2015 


"Store up for yourselves treasures . . . where neither moth nor rust destroys"
(Matthew 6:20)

I held the little pieces of glass in my hands, cupped in my palms, like I could will them back together. But it was all I could do to hold myself together at that moment.

I cry when things break, this is the way it works. It doesn't matter if it's something precious or a 200 rupee jar of jam that dropped out of the shopping bag on the way up the stairs. I don't know what it is, maybe it reminds me of how easily larger things like hearts and relationships can shatter.

"It doesn't matter," I told myself, sitting there on the floor of my parents house staring at the box that had once contained my set of china, but now mostly just contained shards of it. I was alone. I could cry over it, however foolish I felt. It didn't matter. But that was just the point -- it didn't matter. I was planning to give the china away anyhow.

This had come after a month of shedding possessions. Everything I owned in India was whittled down to two 20kg bags. (If anyone feels like going dumpster diving outside Nizamuddin there are stacks of notebooks and journals buried there I'm sure will be worth a lot someday.) I had barely made it to the other side of the planet when my parents told me they were selling their house in California and everything I had stored there had to go as well.

Boxes and boxes of stuff -- baby blankets that belonged to my grandmother, dinner sets copiously collected from flea markets, an eighteenth century cast-iron bed frame that belonged to [someone famous in American history whose name I have long since forgotten], a solid-oak dining room set (where had I found that?) -- marked for the Salvation Army. All this, the collected dreams of a young woman for a life that was so extraordinarily different than the one she grew up to live. It wasn't giving away the things that hurt, it was that it felt like I was giving up the dreams.

Many cultures have the tradition of a "Hope Chest," where a girl makes or collects throughout her life the things she'll need once she leaves her parents house. In America at one time, this was literally a chest made of cedar where a young woman stored her trousseau. In the U.K., I'm told, the term "Bottom Drawer" means the same thing, while I like the Australian version, "Glory Box," because it makes me think of treasure kept places higher than the attic.

I stood there at the kitchen sink washing the slivers of porcelain off my hands and chiding myself with the same old, tired verse (reader beware: if the word of God is a double-edged sword, it probably follows that you shouldn't beat yourself with it), "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34).

But it didn't ring true for me this time. My heart had not been in storage for the last five years. I wasn't holding my dreams in my hands like so much broken glass, they weren't slipping through my fingers and washing away like water.

Dreams, like flowers, cannot grow shut away in boxes. They need to be planted into living soil and the best soil is the living heart of God.

"Jesus, You're my treasure. Jesus, You're my Hope Chest. Jesus, You hold all I hold dear," I whispered, carefully excavating the one item that remained intact, a small blue and white vase, and carrying it over to the box marked "Donation."

There's a great old hymn, "Before the Throne of God Above." The last lines of it are:

 "One with Himself, I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood.
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Saviour and my God." 

My possessions may be up for grabs, but my soul has been purchased. My life is stored away in heaven for a one-day glorious revealing when I shall see it as it is, and I know it will not be shattered.

And another ending, of a poem by E. E. Cummings, goes like this:

"here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)"

I know Who carries my heart. I know where I keep my Hope Chest. Do you?



Photo Credit: Pinké via Flickr cc


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Emily is one-part wild adventurer, one-part novelist recluse, one-part creative entrepreneur, and one-part stay at home mom. Wait, is that too many parts? She loves to share her thoughts at seethesparrow.wordpress.com or, more succinctly, on Twitter @steviesmiff.

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2 comments on “Where Do You Keep Your Hope Chest?”

  1. That was a beautiful piece Emily... It made me take a good hard look at myself and where my treasure is. Very edifying and encouraging. God bless you and may you live in his fullness everyday.

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