Treasure, More Valuable than Gold


Guest Post, submitted by Ray, a brother in Christ


A brief bio of my guest:

Following a difficult childhood, Ray had decided there was no God. While serving as a hard-hitting, heavy drinking young man in the British Army’s Corps of Transport, Ray’s best friend and fellow soldier, Mike, became a Christian. It was more than Ray could bear.

Ray’s friend became a target for his anger and was subjected to a series of pranks and beatings until one day, Ray’s rage was such that he tried to kill Mike during a barrack room brawl.

The two men parted, leaving Ray embittered, isolated and unhappy.

His isolation led him to consider how his friend’s life as a Christian starkly contrasted with his own. At this point, the two men met once more and Ray declared:

Mike, I want what you’ve got.

Mike then led Ray through the Bible, showed him that he was a sinner who needed the salvation offered by God through His son, Jesus Christ, who’d died on the cross for him.

Ray asked Jesus into his life and became a changed man.

He left the army, and in the ensuing forty years, God led him from the Barrack room and into ministry, during which Ray took the gospel message to nineteen countries on four continents.

Ray with friend, Pastor Lucas in Tanzania


One of the first things I was told when I became a child of God was that a half truth is worse than a lie. Sadly, the church in general is today full of half truths and many out and out lies.

Each year, how many churches have Father Christmas for the children? A nice little lie, I am told. Revelation 21:8 should be read and re-read by those who think God accepts any form of lying.

One of the reasons people are led astray is that they do not have the knowledge of God’s presence in either their own lives or in the church.

In referencing the church here I am not referring to the emotional excesses we have witnessed in many churches over recent years where both leadership and led have been trying to work up some sort of ‘spiritual experience’. 

If people really grasp what we are, where we are and what we have, many would stop trying to fill their lives with the things of this world, but would instead enjoy true fellowship with their heavenly Father.

First of all, we need to understand what we are. Romans 8:16 declares:

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Those who are truly born of the Spirit will have this absolute assurance, that they are a child of God, and that their Father loves them. They will not need to go to church every Sunday to be told that God loves them. They will have the peace of His presence within them at all times.

Secondly, where we are.

Hebrews 12: 22 says:

“You have come … “

This is present tense. We are not on the way. We have arrived – this is the here and now, not something that will happen in the future.

Where have we come to?  Hebrews 12:22 goes on:

” … to the city of the living God … ”

Verse 23 adds:

“ … to God the judge of all … ”

We have come; we are in the presence of the living God.

In Ephesians 2:4 Paul writes “But God” – then in verse 6 adds “raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

What do we have here?

In one word: ‘Fellowship’ – that is, a true unbounded relationship with our Heavenly Father, the true treasure of heaven, which is more valuable than gold, more fulfilling than worldly possessions.

Jesus said:

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 12:21

 

Where is your heart?



In the Middle


In several places on this site I’ve alluded to what I’ve described as my ‘faltering walk with God.’ In My Testimony I explain how, having known and experienced God’s love, together with the fellowship of a vibrant church community, I eventually shunned both, opting instead to walk alone for forty years in the wilderness that is the world outside the church.

To maintain a reasonable word-count for my Testimony I declined to mention that, during those years, I repeatedly had a desire to find my way back to that narrow path for which this site is named. At such times I’d reach for my Bible and dust it off. Then, aided by a small book of devotional readings on the theme of ‘First Steps in the Christian Faith’ I’d try to re-ignite my own spark of faith.

Each time I tried, I failed.

My efforts were doomed to fail. Without the support of others I may as well have been trying to clap with one hand.

There were occasions, however, when I’d seek out and attend an evangelical church in the hope that the fellowship of other Christians would add the necessary fuel that would turn the spark I mentioned earlier into a flame. Again, it wasn’t to be.

My sense of shame and inadequacy at failing to remain strong in my faith rose up like a wall around me. I was sure that, what I perceived to be the solid foundation of faith in others gave them an insight into my own shortcomings. To put it another way, I no longer felt worthy of God’s love.

I continued my walk, not knowing whether my defection from God had led to His rejection of me; not knowing whether, for this sinner, there was to be no way back to Him.

If you’ve read my Testimony you now know that wasn’t the case. You now know He welcomed me with open arms. As he does for all those He loves.

I’ll never know why I was unable to return to my life as a practicing Christian between the years 1983 and 2019. However, I’m sure God knows. Furthermore, I’m sure that He’ll use experiences I gained during those years in His plans.



I do know that living a Christian life – a life in which one strives to be Christ-like – is not something I or anyone else can do alone. Once again, it would be like trying to clap with one hand. No, I need God’s help to do this each and every day.

Nevertheless, I know that each day will have its victories and each day will have its failures. But, knowledge of this, accepting it and thanking God anyway becomes its own victory.

An awareness that I am inherently flawed, yet striving to follow in the footsteps of the one man who wasn’t creates an inner conflict – a duality of existence. This is not unique to me – it’s the same for all of us.

For me however, this is perfectly summed up in the words of the song ‘In the Middle’ by American Christian artists, ‘Casting Crowns’:

Somewhere between the hot and the cold.
Somewhere between the new and the old.
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be,
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me.

Somewhere between the wrong and the right.
Somewhere between the darkness and the light.
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me,
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender
without losing all control?

Fearless warriors in a picket fence,
reckless abandon wrapped in common sense.
Deep water faith in the shallow end
and we are caught in the middle.
With eyes wide open to the differences,
the God we want and the God who is.
But will we trade our dreams for His
or are we caught in the middle?
Are we caught in the middle?

Somewhere between my heart and my hands.
Somewhere between my faith and my plans.
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves.
Somewhere between a whisper and a roar.
Somewhere between the altar and the door.
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more,
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender
without losing all control?

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side,
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle.

Should you wish to hear the song performed, click here.