April 23, 2015


We have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

President Obama visited Everglades National Park here in Florida yesterday in honor of Earth Day. Maybe he used it to tweak the state’s two likely Republican presidential contenders—former governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio—in their own backyard, as suggested by a New York Times article. But he had to go somewhere to acknowledge the day, and Everglades is as good a place as any.

The president called the 1.5 million acre park “magical” and a “treasure,” and indeed it is. It’s the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S., declared a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Several endangered species reside in Everglades, including the elusive Florida panther (I saw one’s footprint when I was there!), manatees, sea turtles and American crocodiles (you may remember that in one of my first posts, I mentioned that the park is the only place in the world where alligators and crocs co-exist). Mangrove trees with their strange root system are abundant. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a journalist who fought hard to protect this natural ecosystem, called the park a “river of grass,” a fitting description of the sawgrass undulating in the slow-moving water.

We treasure many things in this life, some of which were never meant to be given such lofty status. Scripture speaks eloquently of this tendency of ours: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). Usually we have to learn this the hard way. For me it was by robbery, first of our apartment and then a few years later our house. The crooks took both my newer jewelry and pieces that had belonged to my grandmother. And my poor mom—she went berserk when she discovered one of my brothers unknowingly threw out a box of household cleaning supplies ruined not by moths or rust but by a leaking pipe. She had used the package as a clever (or so she thought) storage place for her valuables.

What we often forget in our day-to-day existence is that our greatest treasure isn’t a thing or object. It’s our soul, ironically enclosed in our “earthen vessel.” We won’t be taking that container with us when we leave—just the spirit, so cherished and loved by God that He sent His Son to die for it (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

Because, you see, we are His treasure (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, 26:18; Psalm 135:4; Malachi 3:17).


  1. Sharon Casey says:

    I am awe struck by nature almost daily and getting out west to the National Parks there is the only thing on my bucket list. Have you been to them?

  2. Penny says:

    Hi Sharon! Yes, Joe and I have been to several of the western parks over many years, among them Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain and Zion. We hit ones in Hawaii and Alaska as well. We’re going back to Yosemite this summer, after 30 years! If you look at a map of the Southwest, you’ll see that by flying into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, it’s not hard to hit a bunch of parks in the continental U.S. in one looping driving trip. Set aside at least 10 days, preferably 2 weeks. I guarantee you, once you start, you’ll want to go back for more! Start saving for your bucket list fund!

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