The Matchbook Diaries

Inherent Value

In movies people chase one-of-a-kind substances required to save a galaxy.  But in holy stories the substance or approach used by a true prophet lacks theatricality.  You get to the part where the holy person is making the big, splashy move and oh, – the person asks for a handful of flour which is then chucked into a poisonous stew rendering the stew edible, or a river full of pestilence is transformed with some salt.  The substance of miracles is common, thank God.  Anyone can get a handful of flour or some salt, and that’s the whole point.  True miracles employ unspectacular ingredients and the crowd shakes its head – wait, wait – they miss it entirely.  The physical substance used during the miraculous transaction is God’s sleight of hand – only the ones with eyes that actually see witness the dazzling reality of such moments.  The power wasn’t in the salt or in the flour, we all know that.  So where is that power that is radical enough to heal a river or unpoison a stew?  The power’s in the choice, in the choice to love.

My father was fond of saying, and I’m fond of repeating, that things are worth exactly what people will pay for them.  My father and I depart one another at that point, as he was referring to money, and I have spent my life watching trade occur and have concluded that the vast majority of transactions do not entail money.  So whilst there is stern talk about durable assets and hedges against inflation and havens for tax, none of that wisdom addresses true value.

Connection to omnipotence is not purchasable.  That’s what we chase, potency.  We’ve got a legion of demon salesmen – they want to sell us a big cock, or fame, or a mansion, or Chanel sunglasses, or a Ferrari.  Put your hand through the blurry curtain, though, and you find the big cock, and the fame, and the mansion, and the Chanel sunglasses, and even the sexy red car, have no inherent potency.  Not one of those items will ever save a dying child or purify an ocean. The demons know what my father never did – my dad was the one with all the value, and every time he entered into a transaction with a demon, and he often did so, he exchanged what was priceless for dust.

Look at God’s transactions – God’s purchases – it’s not just Schindler’s List – it’s Mohamad’s List and Buddha’s List and Krishna’s List and Jesus’ List.  Look at their receipts.  What is the price of a person?  Everything.  That’s your cost.  You, me, the person sitting across from us, we cost God everything.

In 11th grade economics with Dr. Crowe I was exposed for the first time to one of my great passions – the study of value.  I was riveted by the truth – that currency has no inherent value.  Paper currency used to be backed by actual gold, but we have long since dispensed with that pesky triviality.  A country’s paper money has value so long as the world continues to believe that such value exists.  Boy howdy that was quite the AHA moment for me.  It was then that I began to understand the actual source of value.

Gold is only valuable so long as it retains its scarcity.  If tomorrow a meteor hit this planet and somehow made gold as plentiful as sand, gold would no longer be “valuable”.  If value can be jeopardized or fluctuate, then it is not inherent.  Here in one of the poorest nations of the world, people clutch food, water, and their children.  If, however, you asked any of those people to make a choice, they’d drop the food and water and starve to death before they let go of their children.  They mimic God in this – what matters?  Human life.

In establishing us as priceless commodities, God’s intimate investment confers upon us a value, a value that we can respond to as we choose.  If we no longer need to prove what we are worth, since we are all worth everything, then what do we do?  We walk around and do what God has shown us.  We determine value.  We impose it willfully.  This is our privilege, as children of God.  How, how to we express value?  By treasuring what we love.

Inherent value is created the moment you love something.  You’ve put your heart into that person or thing, then, and so it shimmers, it radiates the glory of love.  I see God in matchbooks and in bottle caps.  My husband sees God in flowers and plants.  We are, as members of God’s household, the arbiters of value.  We can choose to pour our love into whatever we were made to love.  Then, in the midst of that transaction, as we pour our passion into something, we see its glory and the glory of God and we are delighted, enchanted, and we clap our hands and say, Again!  So we find more to love, and we cherish some other thing, and then, as that new item is bathed in glory we understand that inherent value is composed of love.  The fabric of value, the potency we seek, is love.  The source of our power is our heart, where we pour our heart is where true value, inherent value exists, and nothing, nothing can impinge on that value.  The value we establish when we love is forever value, like our love, it has neither beginning nor end. Only we can create inherent value.  So what will you buy with your love?

Our resources are infinite – we have an endless supply of love because we are attached permanently to God.  You can start flinging your wealth around now that you see how much you have.  True value will accrue as you do this.  You will feel it; you will feel true power and potency building and building as you invest more and more of your love in those items, ideas, people, and actions that you were made to love, those things in this world that were given to you and only to you to govern and to treasure as divine royalty, which is what you are.

That’s the outline of a miracle – a human being passionately injecting love into something and therefore decreeing it sacred.  The miracle is that we have been vested, since our creation, with the power to bestow value as we see fit.  We do not need to get something rare; we do not need to chase anything.  Right there in your chest blooms the source of all that has the actual power to transform oceans, to sanctify what would otherwise be poison.