Treasure Hunt: Surprises, Miracles, and Package Deals

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

Be thankful for quiet days, when nothing special seems to be happening.

Upon reading that sentence in this morning’s Jesus Calling devotional, Julie feels just a twinge of disappointment. Guess nothing too special will happen on this morning’s Treasure Hunt. But moments later while she’s strolling on her morning walk, a second thought pops into her mind. I’ll be thankful for today’s routine encounters. Then if God surprises us, His surprise will seem only that more special.

Well, He does surprise us.

In ways more special than anyone imagined.

God grants us three entire “package deals” . . . human Treasures who reveal nearly all the clues of a single Treasure Hunter.

And He also throws in a miracle.

The moment we pull into Home Depot’s parking lot on this sun-splashed April morning, we see her. Our first “package deal,” loading sacks of supplies into her van. Preparing with her husband to leave at any second.

“Don’t let her get away!” Gerald’s shout splits the air as we fling open the doors of his own car. Because the short young woman with flowing long dark hair, clad in shorts and a long-sleeved gray sweater, precisely matches everything he’s scribbled on his clue sheet.

As we barrel over to catch her and show her Gerald’s clues, tears trickle down Kerri’s cheeks. Especially when she studies Gerald’s paper to find the most significant of his clues: a broken heart.

“I don’t believe this.” Removing her glasses (a clue of both Cheryl and Bonnye), Kerri swipes away her tears. She yanks open a van door to reveal adorable Elena . . . a dusky-haired two-year-old snuggled into her car seat. And—as we notice when the mom scoops her sleeping toddler out the van into her arms—Elena’s decked in two of Julie’s clues: a sunny yellow dress sprinkled with white polka dots.

“Elena has a broken heart.” Kerri’s voice trembles as she speaks aloud those very words. “Since we adopted her, she’s been through seven heart surgeries. And she’s due for her next operation before her third birthday.”

After Kerri and her husband Steve grant us grateful permission, the five Treasure Hunters—Gerald, Bonnye, first-timer Mike, and Julie, along with their leader Cheryl—extend hands to pray over the baby. As they finish, Elena’s sleep-puffed lids pop wide open. And regarding us with wonder through her melting-chocolate eyes, she bursts into a smile more sunny than her dress.

“Wait.” Flashing her own radiant smile, Kerri whips out her cell phone. “I want to get a picture of this.” She snaps a photo of Gerald’s clues to show her friends and loved ones . . . then poses while Cheryl snaps another picture, of her along with her husband and their daughter.

As we head toward Home Depot’s outdoor gardening section, we trust God has already worked a miracle for small Elena.

With the group walking away from the encounter in awe of what God might do, Cheryl comments, “Seven is a perfect number in Biblical terms”. “And it’s very possible that God will heal Elena’s heart.” Gerald agrees that seven is perfect and that he believes it will be the last of her surgeries.

Passing without event Julie’s clues of potted trees lined up beneath an electric-blue sky, we turn a corner and spot our second human Treasure . . . Cheryl’s “Ken doll.”

Well, his name is actually Bill. But he does resemble Ken: tall and lean and tanned, with short brown hair molded to his scalp and sculpted, rugged features. “You can pray for my mother-in-law,” he tells Cheryl after she identifies him and explains to him our mission. “She’s been suffering from some health problems.” He receives our prayers with gratitude before turning back to stacking panels of sheetrock.

“I wonder where we’ll meet John?” Gerald asks. We’re all wondering this, as that name’s been scrawled across the sheets of at least three Treasure Hunters. In fact, it’s the only name clue Mike has received.

Heading into the store, we file past Bonnye’s display of microwave ovens . . . and, upon rounding the next corner, encounter our third human Treasure.

Bonnye spots him first. “Look, there’s a guy over there with a crutch. You think he could use some prayer?”

The small silver-haired man limping through the aisle also sports a shirt of bright canary-yellow . . . a clue shared by at least three of us. As we approach him—all but Cheryl, who stays behind to explain our mission to yellow-shirted Anna—he pauses to peer at us through his thick-lensed glasses.

“What’s your name?” Mike asks him, right after introducing us.

John.” He regards the thrilled group with calm bemusement, then allows us to pray for his healing from polio. While John remains quiet and seems slightly nonplussed, a second man sidles up to us. He halts, removes his cap, and joins us in the prayer.

Several aisles down, Mike meets still another Treasure . . . wearing his own clue of camouflage fatigues. “My dad could use some prayer.” Ray regards Mike with weary eyes. “He’s been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He’s not too bad yet, but he’s not happy about the news. In fact, it’s been hard on all of us. Our whole family is concerned.” He’s thankful for the prayers several Treasure Hunters offer for his dad . . . who happens to be one of Cheryl’s clues.

Back outside amidst the gardening supplies, while breathing in the fragrances of multicolored pansies and petunias, we’re startled by a happy shout of welcome.

“It’s Mike Looney!” Cheryl and Gerald recognize the greeter, a former co-worker of them both. As the three of them exchange friendly banter, Julie notes this second Mike sports the first Mike’s clue of a beard. “Yes, the clues still count for people we know,” Cheryl assures her afterwards. “We can pray for them too.”

But though Mike Two responds to our query with a hearty, “Yep, I can always use some prayer,” he then launches into more cheerful conversation before waving his goodbyes.

As the group leaves, we’re marveling over the many “package deals” God has offered us this morning. But Cheryl reminds us that sometimes only a single clue or two—received from each one among several Treasure Hunters—can hold more meaning for a person seeking prayer. And beyond that, we marvel at God’s certain miracles.

On this morning when “nothing special” was presumed to happen, we’re all still rejoicing over small Elena.

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