Treasure Hunt: Praying, Playing, and Persevering

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

The second we pull up in front of Party City—the location clue received by almost all seven of this morning’s Treasure Hunters—we see it. Abby’s clue . . . a staircase with an elevator. “How cool is that?” she asks the group with a wide grin as we all clamber out her “church bus.” And the second we step inside the store—

Beach stuff! Including toy shovels!” Several of us spot Dustin’s clues right away. “And look, they’re even poking out of orange buckets.” Marveling over this color clue received by both Gerald and Sharla—not to mention Dustin, if we count pumpkin—Cheryl strides up to the first shopper we see.

LaTisha’s got a bright orange purse slung over one arm.

“Oh, you can bless me, all right.” She nods to Cheryl, her smile vibrant as her pumpkin-hued purse. “But the one who really needs a blessing is my friend Denise. She’s recently had a death in her family, and she could use a lot of prayer for strength.”

LaTisha blesses us with thanks as we envelop her and Denise in the Holy Spirit’s comfort.

But after we encounter this promising first Treasure, every aisle we cruise appears to lead toward a dead end.

All the bald men we spot are clad in inky jackets . . . not in the orange pullover shirt draping the big strong bald man of Gerald’s vision.

All the women wearing stripes—a clue of several people—seem engrossed in chatting on their cell phones.

Bonnye even spots one lady whose purse sports both stripes and polka dots . . . also chatting on a cell phone.

“And where are my animal crackers?” Sharla shakes her head ruefully.

“Or my twins?” Bonnye wonders.

“Or my X?” Julie adds to herself.

“Okay, Lord,” Cheryl murmurs after we’ve checked out all the clueless aisles. “I know
You’ve led us here to Party City for a reason.”

We all turn one more corner . . . and there they stand.

Cheryl’s biggest clues—two blue-eyed women, both with long blonde hair flowing down their backs. And when she stops to interview them, ask about prayer needs—

“My oldest daughter Janelle has just graduated from college.” June, the older lady, beams with pride. “She writes her own music, and she’s also just put out a record album.”

“That’s amazing.” And Cheryl shows June her list containing her clue of record, along with her vision of women with blue eyes and long blonde hair.

June and her younger daughter Jill, who slips up with a shy step beside her mom, receive prayer for Jack—June’s husband, Jill’s dad—who’s gone for days at a time working the oil fields. “I’m home alone most of the time with all four of our kids,” June confides with a weary sigh. “We’re praying for Jack to find another job, so he can be home with us more often.” As we surround her and Jill with our prayers, tears roll down June’s cheeks and she wraps Cheryl up in a warm hug.

After that, more dead ends.

At least for awhile.

Oh, we do find in one aisle a “shield of faith” and a “breastplate of righteousness” . . . both made from plastic and sprinkled with glitter. In a burst of playfulness, Cheryl slips them on.

“You also need a ‘sword of the Spirit.’ ” Dustin snatches one of these off the shelf and thrusts it into her right hand. And we all chuckle together as Abby snaps a photo of the grinning prayer warrior.

Next we play with wind-up toys. Elephants that rise and lower trunks and spin in circles. Seals spinning balls atop their smiley snouts. Blinking frogs and dinosaurs that scurry like mice across the table.

We twist their keys then let them go to leap and bob and twirl . . . watching them with all the enchantment of the eight-year-old who joins us.

“I’m also praying,” Sharla assures the rest of us, as a gentle reminder of our purpose.

But two of us are no longer there . . . for in the meantime, Abby and Cheryl have found—and prayed with—our third Human Treasure.

“It’s a tall, well-built, good-looking man with dark hair,” Abby tells Jim and his friend standing alongside him. “And we think you’re it. You’re our Treasure.”

Jim’s eyes dance with mischief. “I know I am!”

A lady shopper passing by them snorts. “That’s the best pick-up line I’ve ever heard.”

But following their laughter—and their wonder over the fact that Jim’s T-shirt sports a picture of a record label and his wife’s name is Ashley, still another one of Cheryl’s clues—the two Hunt leaders pray for the couple’s preborn baby. “Our last one was a miscarriage,” Jim explains with troubled eyes. “We hope this child will be born in good health.” As both Treasure Hunters bless this man and his family, they also ask God’s healing for Jim and Ashley from the past pain inflicted by their loss.

As we’re heading toward the front doors, an elderly lady limps past us. “Oh, no thanks.” She shakes her frizzy head and pushes up her glasses, fixing Cheryl with a patient smile. “I’ve already been prayed for this morning, you see. Another church group was here today, and they’re doing the same thing you folks are doing.”

After she lumbers off into the crowd, we still hold her up in a second silent prayer.

And, at last, we spot one.

A lady wearing stripes . . . who is not chatting on her cell phone.

“Oh, I could sure use some prayer right now.” Takiesha offers us a glowing smile. “I’m looking for a new job.”

Excitement over encountering this long-searched-for final Treasure buoys up Gerald to make one last search for his clue: a bald man wearing orange.

Alas, the orange-clad bald man never does show up. Even the bald proprietor of Pallio’s Pizza Shop, where most of the group meet afterwards for lunch, is not there wearing orange today.

Nor does Bonnye find her twins, Julie her X, or Sharla her animal crackers. No sunsets or ambulances appear for even Cheryl or Abby. And Dustin never finds his clue of “women’s jeans, and I think they have a woman in them.”

But we’re all blessed with the gifts of play and laughter . . . and, through faithful prayer and perseverance, with five precious human Treasures.

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