by: Joel Bates
Have you ever hunted for real treasure? The other day, I sat out behind my house in the misty
woods, enjoying a small campfire. I was relishing time with Jesus in prayer and in His Word when I
heard Him say, “Let’s take a walk. I want to show you a treasure.” My little fire was warm, so I
hesitated to leave its comfort, but drawn by the promise of a prize that God wanted to show me, I got
up and started walking.
I went north, down a big, forested slope that ended in a sharply enclosed ravine. As I walked, I
wondered what awaited, and to my delight, the Lord said, “Look closer.” With great curiosity, I began
examining each tree…each leaf…each rock, but nothing seemed very remarkable. Then, I spied a
familiar outcropping of igneous rock and made a beeline for it. Rocks like that, protruding from the side
of a hill, often identify a cave. What if all this time there had been an exciting cave right under my nose?
Surely, this was the surprise Jesus wanted to show me. I could easily imagine how important a new cave
would be for ministry use. However, as I crawled around the distended formation, I found no gaping
opening that invited exploration.
Disappointed, I continued on until I came to a small dried up creek bed. Years ago, my family
and I had walked this way and chanced upon an incredible find—two huge deer antlers with skulls intact
had lain locked together. They told the story of a duel fought long ago that ended in defeat for both
prideful victims. I began to search the area more closely for any signs of deer or any trace of an antler
shed that I could take home to surprise my kids. But the more I explored, the more I got the feeling that
this, too, was not what the Lord had in mind. So, I kept going, looking intently for caves and deer
antlers, mind you.
Before long, I neared the top of a rise that offered a little clearing. The more I survey the area,
the more I could imagine a house built upon this hill, or better yet, a lodge for camp use, standing as a
sentinel. Yes, perhaps this was what the Lord had been trying to show me. Did He want me to build
here—more buildings to use for Kingdom purposes, more beds to house more participants for more
camp programs? Then I heard the still small voice of the Lord say, “Keep going.” I guess this was not the
treasure He wanted to show me.
As I walked down another slope and back up again, I began to doubt whether I had really heard
the Lord. Maybe I just thought I had received His direction. That’s when I saw a gravel road, emerging
from the thick forest, I stood in the middle of the road and looked first left then right. A sign guarded
the entrance with bold white letters on a red background. It said, “STOP!” I had seen it before, but in
fact, the sign was quite common and seldom caused much reflection.
I stood there blinking at it, somehow knowing it was not only for passing automobiles, but for
me, too. I knew this gravel road all too well. It’s the road my new neighbors live on. I still have not
introduced myself to them. And, then I thought of elderly Lenny, a widower living out there with no
family around. This road leads to the homes of friends and neighbors. I haven’t talked to any of them
I knew without Him even telling me, but He said it anyway, “This is the treasure I wanted to
show you--people.” God had placed people near me, or maybe more correctly, He had place me near
them. I haven’t met those new neighbors who may not even know Jesus. I have forgotten an elderly
fellow who could use a friend to offer the companionship of Christ. Have I abandoned longtime
acquaintances who could simply use an encouraging reminder that God loves them?
I wiped a tear from my misting eyes as I realized how seldom I treasure the things God
treasures. If I want to be like Jesus, I must care about what He cares about. If left to my own pursuits, I
would settle for holes in the ground, horns to mount on the wall, and hills to build on, but God reminded
me that He so loved the world—the people—that He gave His only son. They are the treasure God
seeks. They must become our treasures, too. This holiday season, consider the words of the Savior:
…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:20-21 & 33
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.