Treasure Hunt: We’re God’s Treasures Too!

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

“This morning God’s been telling me to speak to you guys about His love for us.” Cheryl beams round the Tom Thumb table at her seven fellow Treasure Hunters—which this morning include her mother Sharon as well as the other Sharon, co-leader Abby, Dustin, Brandy, Bonnye, and me. After reading the words of Jesus, “ ‘I am the Vine, you are the branches. . . .’ ” (John 15:5), she goes on to say, “He’s told me that He doesn’t want us being one another’s ‘fruit inspectors.’ As we abide in Him, our spiritual fruit is a by-product or out-cropping of our being grafted in Him.”

Affirming one another in our spiritual “fruits.” This seems to be the theme of this morning’s Treasure Hunt . . . beginning with the game we play before setting out. “As we go around the table and I call out each of your names,” Cheryl instructs, “everyone listen for God to provide one prophetic word for that person. Then go ahead and write down that word—the first word that enters your mind.”

Freedom . . . peace . . . joy . . . wisdom . . . truth . . . patience . . . love . . . I’m amazed at how quickly the words pop into my mind for every individual named—and at how many folks receive the same or similar words for the same people. Some surprise me. I never expected warrior to enter anyone’s mind for me—the group’s quietest member. And I chuckle along with the rest when Dustin’s word—sandwich—is applied to our wise co-leader Cheryl. A mystery word indeed . . . but we all, Cheryl most of all, trust God has His reasons.

Time now for our usual practice of listening in the silence for God’s Treasure Hunting clues. The moment I squeeze shut my eyes, nature pictures drift across the black behind my lids. Lambs and bees. Dragonflies soaring past on filmy wings. Flowers unfolding deep blue petals. And a number of other blue objects—including a circle and a square.

The others’ clues match up with my general theme of nature and outdoors. Open spaces. Water. Beaches and beachcombers. Horses. Long, tall grass. Plants. Still more flowers. And a park.

But, “I’ve got hospital front,”Brandy jumps in. “And also nurse.” She ponders a moment. “I think these clues both apply to Bonnye,” she adds. “I’m receiving a strong sense that we’re meant to pray for her right now.” We all pause in our clue-sharing, extend hands to our fellow Treasure Hunter who’s a nurse. And we wrap her up in prayer over the issues she’d dealing with right now.

“You know, I’m thinking about this park over in Rockwall that’s right near a hospital,” Dustin shares. “It’s a beautiful place with a lake and lots of flowers, and on the way you even pass a field of long, tall grass. I really think that park might be this morning’s location clue.”

We all agree. But before taking off—

Sharon speaks up, turning to the Treasure Hunter on her left. “Abby, I think you might also be one of our Treasures this morning. Look.” She shares her clue of yellow-green while pointing to Abby’s fluorescent lime-and-lemon shirt. Then leads us in a second prayer . . . this one for God’s special protection over Abby as the co-leader prepares to engage in an upcoming major spiritual battle.

The Park Fox Chase—our destination about twenty minutes later—yields up almost all our clues. “Look, Sharon, there’s your long, tall grass.” Bonnye points out her window toward a sea of shaggy sun-bleached blades. And when Sharon pulls to a stop and she, Bonnye, Dustin, and I climb out from her car, we drink in a panorama of Abby’s beauty . . . complete with a shimmering lake (confirming her clue of water).

While Abby’s rubber duck never puts in an appearance (despite the fact this park is on Tubbs Street), an entire flock of living ducks drift across the lake. And while no horses, lambs, or even bees show up, a flurry of silver-winged dragonflies flash past overhead . . . lovely as the many sprays of multicolored flowers.

“We even saw some small blue flowers,” Sharon will report to me, confirming our shared color clue after she and several others take a stroll around the lake. Other blue objects pop up here as well . . . including my circle and square, in the forms of several playground rings—there are also some yellow ones, matching Brandy’s color clue—and holes built into a play fort. And Brandy spots her clue of a blue right medical boot . . . encased around the foot of a man feeding the ducks.

But what of the man himself? “When he saw us approaching him, he quickly took off,” Brandy reports with a rueful smile.

As does the man in Bonnye’s clue of a gray baseball cap. And the only other human we see inhabiting the peaceful park . . . a middle-aged lady with Cheryl’s clue of bobbed brown hair, jogging at a no-nonsense pace along the path.

“We all need prayer.” The jogger casts a wary eye at Cheryl and Abby as they present their clue sheets and explain to her our mission. And when they ask her about the clue names scrawled on their sheets, she purses her lips and veers sharply to the right. “I’m really in a hurry.” Her brown eyes snapping now, she increases her jog to a still more rapid clip. “I’m meeting a friend here, you see. . . .”

After she shrinks to a dot along the path, we anyhow lift her up in prayer . . . as we do the two disappearing men in the medical boot and baseball cap. After all, we have no way of knowing if her name—or her friend’s name—might not be Mary, Sue, or Marilyn. Or if any of those folks might not have a genuine need for prayer.

Yet apart from those three, we encounter no more potential human Treasures. While ducks and dragonflies abound and even a small turtle pokes its head up from the lake, the only humans inhabiting this idyllic clue-laden park seem to be ourselves.

On this lovely sun-splashed morning, still free from today’s predicted thunderstorms, could the Treasure Hunters be called to find one another? To become our own Treasures?

Well, after we all plop down at a picnic table near the playground, Cheryl’s mom shares a delightful story about her daughter . . . involving still more dragonflies. “We were kayaking on a river and being eaten alive by mosquitoes. When we rounded a bend in the river, the mosquitoes mysteriously vanished—replaced by an enormous swarm of dragonflies, landing all over us.”

“I’d started praying for our relief from the mosquitoes,” Cheryl adds with a smile at her mother Sharon. “I really believe God sent those dragonflies in answer to my prayer.”

Soon the other Sharon speaks up. She leads us in prayer for Nidia . . . a saint at NHV who’s now facing some painful struggles. Then Cheryl launches into a second prayer for Abby . . . covering her upcoming visit to the “Burning Men” event in East Texas.

“It’s where this huge group of folks get together—a lot of artists and hippie types—to build a gigantic sculpture,” Abby responds to my baffled question. “And after it’s all built—it’ll be too huge to move or store anywhere—they set the thing on fire and watch it burn to the ground. It’s supposed to be a kind of catharsis, a spiritual experience, and folks take part trying to find freedom from their pain.

“Well, me and Jason and some of our other believing friends hope to share with the folks there how only God can bring true freedom. They’re seekers after truth—which is a better place to be than not caring at all—but they’re just looking for truth in the wrong places.” Her pensive gaze now lights up as she breaks out in a grin. “Besides, it’s fun building that humongous thing, then watching it go whooshing up in flames!”

After our prayers, it’s also fun to invade the otherwise-deserted nearby playground. To become God’s children in a rather literal sense. Well, at least for some of us. The two Sharons remain behind, conversing at the table like the mamas of our group. But Cheryl, Bonnye, and I go soaring on the swings while Abby scrambles to the peak of the jungle gym.

And when I spot Dustin and Brandy—the college-professor couple who respectively teach calculus and biological math—bouncing together on the play trampoline, I feel a grin splitting my own face. I’m recalling what Brandy said to me as we were heading out to the Tom Thumb parking lot. “Julie, I know you like to think of yourself as childlike. But”—she indicates the prophetic words I received this morning, many of which matched her own—“I think God’s wanting you to see yourself as insightful, deep, and wise.”

I told her, “It’s possible to be both at the same time.” And now, watching this spiritual leader/math professor go swooping down a slide, I can’t help delighting in the truth of my own response.

Yes, God calls us to increasing wisdom and spiritual maturity, as well as to using the gifts of mind and body He’s granted us. But at the same time He calls us to become His little children . . . free to find His Treasures not only in the world at large, but also in the playground of our own family’s backyard.

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