Treasure Hunt: Childlike Faith

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

“God’s message for today is that He has no message.” Cheryl smiles at her group of eight fellow Treasure Hunters, who on this sunny May morning include co-leader Abby, Gerald and Bonnye, first-timers Bob and Sharla, Julie, and Jennifer along with her small son Corby. “That’s why I didn’t read an opening devotion. This morning I sensed God’s just calling us to trust Him.”

As the morning unrolls, God highlights this trust through the zeal of the group’s youngest Treasure Hunter . . . five-year-old Corby. And with the small boy’s help, God surprises the two teams with a total of twenty-five human Treasures.

Of course, most of these show up at the busier of our two designated locations—Walmart. “The big Walmart!” little Corby clarifies before we set out, his mist-blue eyes dancing with excitement. Already eager to love and serve, he’ll play a major role in discovering two of the first team’s numerous Treasures.

“Look, that man’s got a light blue shirt!” Dashing ahead of this team’s five other Treasure Hunters—his mom Jennifer, Abby, Bonnye, Bob, and Sharla—Corby points to Norman, who’s wearing the clue. As the others catch up, they learn from Norman and his wife Janelle that he’s just recovering from surgery. The group surrounds the couple with prayers for Norman’s strength, as well as grace and peace for Janelle, who cares for him.

Little Corby also points out elderly Eva, perched in a motorized chair. After discovering her need for healing from stage-four breast cancer, the group covers Eva and her husband Ray with prayers for peace and strength.

Though not official Treasure Hunters, two other children—the twins Tim and Tammy—lead the group to pray for their mother Heather, who needs strength, grace, patience, and health.

Small Blake receives prayer himself . . . along with his Grandma Mimi. The Treasure Hunters find this pair in the toy section, where they notice multiple clues on them both. Blue stripes decorate Blake’s shorts and shirtsleeves, and Mimi’s shirt is a bright pink. While sunny-blond Blake choo-choos his toy train along the aisle, the Treasure Hunters chat with his grandma. They end up praying health and provision for Mimi’s kids, including a new child in the family.

The group soon meets other “package deal” human Treasures . . . such as Brad with his mustache, orange shirt, and jeans. The Treasure Hunters bless him and his family.

Bill is a tall black man, wearing a blue baseball cap along with a striped shirt. Even his prayer needs—for his marriage and family—are clues.

And Robert, a good-looking young black man, receives prayer for health and provision, as well as for his family.

Another “package deal” is Dakota, a tall blond man with a baseball cap. Along with Kate and Sierra, the two ladies in his company, he receives prayer for strength and provision. “I also need help with sobriety,” Sierra confesses.

Then there is Phil, a blond man in blue with a mustache and belly who works with electronics. After he and Lenore, his pink-clad wife, receive prayer for provision, the couple requests prayer for their friend LaDonna. “She’s suffering from cancer of the tongue, lung, and back,” Lenore confides.

The list goes on.

Elderly couple Floyd and May, both clad in blue, need prayer for health . . . which includes the healing of Floyd’s hurt wrist.

Strolling through an aisle that glows bright with rainbow colors, the Treasure Hunters also meet blue-shirted Suzette . . . who needs prayer for family and provision.

Young Jim, a recent graduate who’s still formally garbed in shirt and tie, requests prayer for his prosperity and safety.

And as Gretchen clutches her cane and inches down the aisle, she moves the group to pray for her bent-over back.

Counting individuals among couples and families, the bustling Walmart ends up yielding twenty human Treasures.

Meanwhile . . .

The peaceful harbor—to which the second team felt called by the combined clues of outdoors, open space, bush, tree, river, and birds—may feature more wheeling gulls and strutting mama ducks than it does needy people. But as Cheryl, Gerald, and Julie meander along the breeze-brushed walks and velvet meadows, they also encounter several precious human Treasures.

The first of these is Darryl, a young black man with a baseball cap. Beaming with pride, he’s snapping a photo of his girlfriend Renee, posed in her graduate’s gown against a tree. “We worship God and Jesus,” he assures the Treasure Hunters when Cheryl explains to him our purpose. And Renee adds, “We also know all about Treasure Hunts!”

The couple glows with gratitude as Cheryl blesses Darryl with “encouragement that you’ll find your destiny” . . . the very clue she’d earlier received for a young black man with a baseball cap.

Provision—a prayer request so frequent among the shoppers back at Walmart it seems to be this morning’s theme—also marks the blessing Cheryl and Gerald shower over Mike. He’s a proprietor of the Genuine Jake T-shirt shop, where Cheryl and Gerald have stopped to purchase T-shirts. While shopping, they pause to listen as Mike shares an inspiring story. “My business partner and I also sell real estate. Not long ago I saw one of our clients offer a free lawn mower to another client. His generous act really touched me.”

The three Treasure Hunters are themselves soon touched by little Ramon. As we approach the limping child with the bent-over back, his red-shirted mama Maria extends eager hands to us. “Please pray for my family!” she calls out in a musical Spanish accent. “For my son. For his healing.” She cups one loving hand around Ramon’s bobbing dark head.

While we pray, Ramon drops to his knees . . . a sunlit smile splashing across his face. His childlike faith, strong as that of Corby’s back at Walmart, shines out to infect us all . . . including both his parents and his striped-shirted aunt Teresa. “Wait!” Teresa calls as we turn to leave. When we spin back round, she catches us in a photo.

Then we meet the two Erics . . . just in time.

“Look, there’s another black man with a baseball cap.” Julie points him out as he ambles along the lakeshore toward us . . . only to blush as Cheryl clarifies, “He’s not black.” The white man with sun-bronzed skin (further shadowed by his cap) soon passes us. But then Cheryl reflects, “I have a feeling about him.”

“So do I,” Gerald concurs. We all about-face, go dashing back in search of the prospective Human Treasure.

“I thought you might be trying to find me.” He grins as we catch up to him and, before explaining our mission, apologize for our apparent “stalking.”

And Eric does want prayer. For his daughter . . . who’s getting married in two weeks. “I’m concerned for Lauren. I think it’s too soon. The guy’s been in the service all this time, and Lauren’s just graduated from college. She’s in that store right now on a job interview.” He flaps one hand toward a nearby shop, then shakes his head. “I think she needs to work for about three years first. Get some independence, some life in the real world.”

The anxious dad relaxes as we pray God’s wisdom and protection over his daughter’s life.

We’re heading back to the parking lot when Cheryl nudges Julie. “Look, there’s your clue . . . a man with a green hat.”

Once again we about-face . . . and meet the second Eric.

This one is young—only nineteen. But beneath the mop of sunny blond hair wisping from his cap, his tanned face carries the brooding weight of a man who’s suffered for ninety years.

“My house burned down, and I’m the only survivor. . . . Just come out from under the custody of CPS (Child Protective Services), and I’ve attempted suicide thirty-eight times. I’m traveling around. . . . I’m a Christian agnostic. I believe God and Jesus exist, but I just don’t know what for.”

After Gerald presents Eric with the straight Gospel message, Cheryl shares with him some of the miracles she’s seen. “Little Elena’s mom had all our clues.” She’s recounting one divine encounter from an earlier Treasure Hunt. “And when we saw her little girl, who’d been through seven heart surgeries and fit our clue of a broken heart . . . Well, when you see that many miracles firsthand, you know God’s doing something that’s more than coincidence.”

We leave Eric still brooding, his brow knit in deep thought. Only God knows what he will choose to do with the seeds that have been sewn into his mind and spirit. But that God will touch him somehow we can still choose to trust . . . with the same childlike faith lighting the eyes of stooped Ramon and little Corby.

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