Yesterday, I briefly referenced a few lines from a hymn by Ann Griffiths. She was a Welsh poet and hymn writer who died in 1805 at the age of 29 after childbirth. The part of the hymn I quoted was:
Gladly would I leave behind me
All the pleasures I have known
To pursue surpassing treasures
At the throne of God, the SonAnn Griffiths
The word “gladly” is sticking with me. I do think I would leave behind all earthly pleasures in order to pursue the treasures offered me in Christ. But I confess I would not do it gladly, at least not at first. The right word to insert into the hymn that describes my attitude would be “begrudgingly.”
Griffiths claimed she would “gladly” leave everything in exchange of the pursuit of treasures at the throne of Christ. Where does she get the gall to make such claims? The answer is in the third word of the third line: “to pursue surpassing treasures.”
The treasures at the throne of Christ surpass all the pleasures we could know in this life. This is a fundamental belief for anyone who wants to take up their cross and follow Jesus. If we do not believe that Christ is better, sweeter, and more beautiful, then we will find it increasingly difficult (impossible?) to forsake earthly pleasures for His sake.
Isn’t it wonderful to know the heart of our Father, though? When he bids us “come and die” upon the cross, He does not do so to harm us, but to thrill our hearts with “surpassing treasure.” I’m reminded of this C.S. Lewis quote from The Weight of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”C.S. Lewis
I hope you’ll join me in seeking to remember this and remind one another of it: if we saw perfectly the reward that awaits us, we would run toward obedience, no matter the cost.