Over the last few weeks my young sons and I excitedly searched our city for Blackbeard’s buried treasure. We attended weekly pirate shows where new clues were released, seeking to decipher their mystic meaning. Armed with sunscreen and a shovel, we adventured across Fresno, discovering new hiking paths and swimming holes. The scalding sun and real-life responsibilities were all that restrained us from squandering the entire summer on our hopeful quest for the gold in the ground. The plot amplified as a community of seeking scalawags arose around us, increasing the competition for the $30,000 reward.
Early this week our dream dissolved with the declaration that the chest was unearthed…by someone else. Shortly after learning the news, we traveled to the discovery site. We puzzled together the clues and saw how they converged on that ambiguous plot of land. As we stood scanning the landscape, I was surprised to see grimy blankets abandoned in the dust; the remains from a homeless encampment. The ironic truth was that those clueless campers slept in poverty while untapped riches waited quietly beneath their beds.
The lesson lingers…..are we so different? Are there not numerous applications for this unsettling image? Don’t we have countless areas where contentment with unintentional, mindless, disconnected living separates us from dormant and undeveloped possibilities?
In the spiritual realm, are we not so often playing paupers, with God’s limitless treasure reserve resting within arm’s reach? We thirst for attention and acceptance from others while God’s ocean of adoration surges just steps from our toes. We sit in our shame; we wallow in our worry; we settle with our sins. Our performance convinces us that we are impoverished, challenging our reality of riches.
C.S. Lewis described this existence of lesser living in the following sentences:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
What in our lives would change if we began seeking God’s gold instead of sleeping on it?
What would awaken in us if we turned from our distractions and toward our infinitely caring Father?
What life would spring up from within if we, like David, “sought the Lord” (Psalm 34:4), experiencing a new depth of interaction with his love?
That beloved King did not find God to be a stoic, unresponsive, authority figure but recalled a genuine, embracing interaction. He wrote:
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord
lack no good thing.”
Psalm 34:4-6, 7-8, 10
What depths of joy would splash over us if we woke up and witnessed the goodness of God?
What fulfillment would we find as we luxuriated in a connection that dwarfed every previous desire?
Would we still meddle with mediocrity?
The choice is ours. And unlike Blackbeard’s inanimate treasure, our Heavenly Father does not lay lifeless in some unknown location. He actively beckons us, whispering “wake up, you sleepers”, “stand up, you dreamers”, “open your eyes and let my radiance brighten your face”.
Despite His affectionate invitation, still, most of us will not come. We humans are injured, guarded, and unwilling to trust. We are comfortable and cozy. Despite the opportunity at hand, many of us will remain tucked under our familiar sheets.
Richard Foster wrote about this dynamic with the crucial reminder that “today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence.”
May we ponder the prospect before us. May we still our minds and listen to God’s voice. May the aroma of “gold fever” fill our nostrils, wakening us to the passionate hunt for the untapped treasure that awaits. May the pursuit of the pleasure of Divine companionship become our life’s aim. May we join the gang of misfits and treasure seekers who, like us, will not relent until the priceless jewels of his delight in us cascade from our outstretched fingertips. And as we “taste and see” God’s goodness, may we savor the sweet depth of connection, while allowing a godly greed to swell in our souls.
May we never stop digging.