Jackson Snyder February 2, 1995; August 18, 2002
PREVIEW What the Bible Says about Stewardship A.Q. Van Benschoten
Matthew 13:44 (KJV) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
The Golden Flood
There was a little quiz on TV last night. There was a video clip of a man chest deep in raging floodwater. You could tell it was a flood because you could see he was trying to wade down the middle of a city street: there were flooded houses seen in the background. The commentator told us that this man was in Missouri and asked us to guess which August 17th was pictured – 1973, 1983 or 1993. Would you know which to pick? I knew immediately because I remembered an apocryphal story about what had happened to a farmer named Miller during that great flood of 1993.
Miller was a Christian farmer. His home was swept away during the flood. Through alligator tears, he rationalized that his old house wasn't worth much anyway and he praised G-d that nobody in the family was hurt. Though Miller was broken-hearted, discouraged and financially ruined, he still held on to a vague hope that his faith was not in vain.
When the water subsided and Miller was able to begin cleaning up the mess, he spied a number of large, glittering objects in the muddy hole of his flooded-out basement. He discovered them to be large chunks of ore heavily laden with gold! Where they came from was a mystery; nevertheless, through what the insurance industry calls an "act of G-d," Farmer Miller recovered a fortune in new gold, but at the expense of all the old things he once had owned.
The insurance money, coupled with the proceeds of the sale of his gold, afforded Miller the resources to relocate away from the riverbank and build a much nicer house and thus become a testimony in his community to the power of the Almighty. Although he never got over the pain of his initial loss, especially the loss of his cherished personal items, he gave G-d the glory for his restoration!
Get a Job
Miller's story reminds us of Job's catastrophe and incredible gain. Job lost everything he loved, including his health. But rather than be left alone to curse God and die, his "friends" are on hand to torment him with homespun self-improvement courses. One of Job's friends, Eliphaz, did seem to have the elusive answer Job was seeking:
"Brother Job, if you treat gold as mere dust, and gold nuggets as mere stones in the river, and if you make the Almighty your gold and silver instead, then you will delight only in the Almighty, and lift up your face to God" (Job 22:24-27 paraphrase).
This is what eventually happened, as Job reconnoitered the value of the Almighty in relation to the loss of his goods and even his family. Although Job, being human, may have never gotten over losing his wife and children, his face was eventually lifted up. He made the Almighty his delight, and he was fully and miraculously restored.
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
Now about the parable of Hidden Treasure: We normally think of the Father's healing and restoration as resulting from our faith working through loss, like Miller's loss of his home through the flood, or Job's loss of family through the devil's trick. But this parable is not an account of unintentional loss, but of intentional loss. There is no cataclysm to take away what the treasure-hunter already has, but he intentionally and even joyfully sells everything to gain the Almighty (for the treasure in the field is Yahweh). He has made the Kingdom of the Almighty His Gold by ridding himself of his gold! And as a professional treasure-hunter, it’s his business to find the best treasure!
Although Jesus promised his presence in the midst of unintentional sacrifice, he always demanded the joyful, intentional sacrifice of his followers. The treasure-hunter joyfully and intentionally gives all he has, and gets something greater, all mindfully done without catastrophe forcing the issue.
Jesus' radical teaching of loss and gain is so often lost on saints today (saints with a small “s”), being relegated to the realm of Saints (with a capital "S") instead. Yet the promise has proven true over and over again for saints (with a small “s”) and Saints (with a capital “S”) alike: "if you will first strive for the Kingdom of G-d and his righteousness, then all the things you need will be yours" (Matthew 6:33 paraphrase). We are bid by our Master to master the treasure hunt!
Imagine the power and prosperity that might materialize through intentionally seeking to possess the Treasure with all one's soul, mind, strength, might and wealth. Imagine gaining every worthwhile blessing of the Almighty Father without the unexpected loss of a home to a flood or a family to disaster. Imagine gaining a priceless pearl through blissful surrender instead. Imagine what we could do with such a treasure for the world and its people.
But will we be gladly able to turn our hearts and eyes treasure-ward, and "sell out" for it? Or shall we wait instead for coming disaster, when treasure shall be revealed through suffering? No, let us hunt treasure now!
One day as I was sinking in a sea of dark despair, I tripped upon a treasure chest, buried deep down there.
Suddenly my heart leapt with joy...as it skipped a beat, the chest's dirt and loam all scattered, swirling round my feet.
Grasping onto it with a vengeance, I surfaced for some air. Fate had brought us together and time would let us share.
The chest was worn and tarnished, its hinges rusted shut and I was lost and lonely, in need, not knowing what.
Day in day out we stayed there on the beach, side by side, listening and soothing each other, tide after tide.
Caressing and polishing daily, loosening the years of decay and in return it gave me some contentment back in my day.
Every now and then it would open up, just a wee bit more but how long it would take to see inside, I really wasn’t sure.
As time went on I noticed a sparkle and a shine that was spilling out all over, filling this heart of mine.
Inside there was a music box that played me songs untold. A key that opened a locket, it was a heart of gold.
Rubies and gems made into a face, it was that of a clown. A brooch of a cherub angel that must have been passed down.
A dried bottle of ink, a quill waiting to write tales of the past and poetry of the night.
Sparkles and shimmers dancing over cut glass, showing elegance and charm that nothing could surpass.
Its value unknown but I knew deep in my heart that it was a treasure from which I never would part.
A jewel found so deep in that sea of despair has brightened my life with a breath of fresh air.
One never knows when that treasure will appear in their life; hopefully, in times of struggling with torment and strife.
Cherish it, love it, its value is beyond that of gold. It must be locked in your heart forever to hold.
--- Cammi’s Cabin http://members.tripod.com/~cammicabin/treasure.htm