Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps
I usually stay away from the hackneyed phrase “treasure trove,” but it’s hard to resist using it to describe an engaging book titled TREASURED, which sports a cover photo of an old suitcase or box overflowing with keepsakes. It truly is a treasure trove of spiritual lessons that act as nourishment for one’s mind and one’s soul.
In TREASURED, Leigh McLeroy pulls devotional lessons about God’s care and keeping from 12 Old Testament stories. She hooks her chapters to specific material objects that are central to and representational of God’s role in the larger human story: the fig leaf in Eden, representing “The God Who Covers Me”; Noah’s olive branch, representing “The God of New Beginnings”; Rahab’s scarlet cord, representing “The God Who Includes”; and David’s harp string, representing “The God of the Little Guy.” Each chapter retells a biblical story (or, in the book’s weakest chapter, a metaphor: Ezekiel’s heart-stone prophecy) that has resonated with McLeroy at some point in her own spiritual journey. Chapters include well-written personal anecdotes that are way above average in their insight and appeal.
One of the best chapters (entitled “A Strip of Bloodied Cloth: The God with a Bigger Plan”) jumps off from the Genesis 37 account of Joseph’s wily brothers presenting his tunic to their father Jacob, who identifies the garment and concludes that “a wild best has devoured” Joseph. After writing of a perceived injustice toward her, McLeroy personalizes the allusion: “Those scraps of bloodied cloth that dot the landscape of my own story can, and sometimes do, cause my faith to waver. I tremble before lies. Lost opportunities…Examining even one of these bloody cloths forces up from my fearful heart questions I can’t answer…[M]y heart struggles to press on in faith, to believe that He is crafting a truer, richer tale.” Here, McLeroy shows how these stories, which many dismiss as mere “fairy tales,” can --- and should --- be used by all as a tool to help us reflect on and live our lives.
To write this review, I read the book all at once. It worked for me, but this kind of book is best absorbed when read one chapter at a time. Each metaphor needs time to sink in to one’s spirit and psyche. I was well into TREASURED before I realized that McLeroy --- probably in her mid- or late-forties --- never married. Though this eventually becomes evident and a critical piece of her life story, I find it refreshing that her marital or parental status doesn’t define the book’s message or market. It’s a book I might give to nearly any Christian woman.
I haven’t mentioned the volume’s bookends, which further ground the text in McLeroy’s world. The introduction shows McLeroy receiving and unpacking a box full of mementoes from her recently deceased grandfather. The last chapter, “Inside My Cigar Box,” tenderly describes 12 select items: “If I had a collection of treasures representing my history with God, these would surely be found among them.” The book’s final words connect the stories: “One day we will exchange our small box of treasures for His infinite one, and it will take forever to see what He has saved.”
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on September 15, 2009