In 1910, Montana was blooming into a new Eden. At least, it was if you believed the many promotional materials wooing people to the Treasure State during that decade’s great homesteading boom.
Brochures described the land and climate in radiant terms, making prospective immigrants believe that breaking one’s plow into the rich soil of the state’s eastern plains would inevitably yield a harvest of gold. Multitudes of farmers and would-be farmers were convinced, and during those few years hundreds of thousands of settlers flooded into Montana.
Boom … and Crash
For a while, it seemed the promoters were right—a series of seasons when enough moisture came at the right time, coupled with crop prices inflated by the demand created during World War I, brought not only abundant production, but substantial income.
Even more, the bountiful years brought the illusion that these conditions were the norm.
However, that was not the case. After the war ended, prices plummeted. But that almost didn’t matter, because there weren’t any crops to sell anyway. A series of dry seasons—more in line with the real “norm” for that part of the state—reduced harvests to a fraction of what they had been in the preceding years.
Soon, the flood of settlers began to ebb, right out of the state. Some found their circumstances so hopeless that they pulled up stakes and rode out without pausing to eat the dinner waiting on the table.1
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
A little over a century later, Montana is experiencing another boom. In the wake of a pandemic and unrest in our nation’s urban centers, the relatively remote reaches of the northern Rockies are again regarded as a utopia. As you are no doubt aware if you are anywhere in southwest Montana, the median listing price for homes in Bozeman, YTI’s home town, has increased by over $150,000 in the past year.
While this time around there is less reference to the state’s suitability for wheat, potatoes, and melons than there was in 1910, Montana is again somewhere near that pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.
Yet, we’re all too aware that what goes up must come down. Many painfully recall the steep decline of the “great recession” a few years back, and even if the next downturn isn’t as precipitous as that one—let alone, the homestead bust of the late 1910’s—the good times don’t roll forever.
A Drought-Proof Investment
Followers of Christ should remember, however, that there is a realm where there are no downturns. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19–21, NASB).
There’s nothing wrong with making wise investments here in this world. But inevitably, downturns will come.
That’s not the case when we invest in God’s heavenly kingdom! Jesus speaks right here in Matthew 6 of several ways His followers can “practice your righteousness” and make that investment—including things like giving, praying, and fasting, done not to be seen by fellow humans, but by God—and have a “reward with your Father who is in heaven.” This is a place we can put down eternal roots.
In our uncertain world where we’re still trying to figure out the “new normal,” we can be fully confident in the eternal value of investing in God’s kingdom—where there are no droughts, and the bottom will never fall out of the market.