A few days ago, this painting sold at auction to a Japanese businessman for $110.5 million dollars. It is by the American artist, Jean-Michael Basquiat who died at the age of 28 back in 1998. He painted this work when he was 21 years-old. The auction price was historic in two ways. First, it was the highest price ever paid for a painting by an American artist. And second, it was the highest price ever paid in history for an African-American artist. The new owner, Yusaku Maczawa is going to exhibit the work around the world at various institutions and exhibitions until it is permanently housed in a museum to be built for such a purpose.
Such a large sum of money is a staggering amount. Obviously, the painting is of enormous worth and value. My mind started to consider how such a work of art could be safely transported. It’s not the kind of thing you can run down to the local UPS store and ask them to ship. I am certain that elaborate plans will be in place anytime that it is moved from one location to another. Most assuredly, ground transportation will include an armored vehicle. So, I did a little research into the cost of an armored truck… the kind the Brinks people use to haul around a lot of cash. With thick plating, bullet-proof glass, and run-flat tires, an armored truck costs just north of $50,000. Here’s my point. A priceless masterpiece will, at some point, be placed in a vehicle that is worth less than 1/10th of 1% of the treasure it holds. Crazy, right? But when the treasure is contained within the truck, suddenly the value of the truck is elevated. The treasure within, gives enormous worth to that which holds it.
The Apostle Paul once wrote, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves’ (2 Cor. 4:7). Paul was talking about the treasure of the Gospel. Embedded within each of us as believers, is the truth of the Good News that Jesus brought. We know what it takes to gain eternal life. We have the answer to how anyone can live forever in the Kingdom of God. What a curious thing… the greatest treasure of all time is carried about inside the hearts of flawed and fragile human beings. God has “invested” the treasure in us. We are the keepers… the guardians… the ambassadors. And the more we tell others about the treasure, the more safely guarded it becomes as the treasure gets stored again and again the hearts of millions of “earthen vessels.”
Years ago, I had a pilot friend who flew corporate jets for the Humana Health Organization. From time to time, he was sent to transport a heart from a donor to a recipient. For example, once he flew to Atlanta and then back to Louisville to bring a heart from Georgia to someone awaiting as a recipient in Kentucky. He was always a little dumbstruck by the way in which those human hearts were transported. As soon as they were harvested, they were placed on ice in an Igloo cooler, just like the ones you buy at Walmart to keep your picnic sandwiches cool. Something so critically important was carried around in a plastic cooler.
If you are feeling a little defeated today, or maybe a little undervalued at work, or just a little worn out and worthless… you need to take a moment to consider the treasure that you carry around in your heart and life. The treasure within gives great worth and value to that which holds it. So, to the best of your ability, carry it well. Guard it carefully. Represent the King. Live unselfishly. And tell folks along the way about the treasure you hold.
Dr. Jon R Roebuck, Executive Director