Treasure Hunt: Targeting Pony Tails, Babies, and Lost Sons

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

Even before we leave Tom Thumb on this misty Saturday morning, we again receive one Treasure . . . and the surprising hint of a second one.

Sharon’s clue of blue plaid shoes points at once to Abby—who’s needing prayer for time management. “That’s another one of my clues,” Sharon exclaims with a smile. She prays aloud for the co-leader, while the rest of us intercede in silence.

And when Cheryl, the other co-leader, calls for name clues, she startles Julie with her own. “I received Julie and Sarah Thomas.”

Julie’s heart stutters as she speaks up. “I have a friend named Sarah Thomas. We’re in the same writers’ critique group.” She adds with a grin at Cheryl, “It’s interesting you’re the one who got her name—because you remind me a lot of her.”

In response to the location clue received by both Cheryl and Abby, we head this overcast morning off to Target. “I also received sunshine and flowers,” Abby shares with a chuckle, glancing out the window of Cheryl’s car at the mass of inky clouds gathering overhead. “But since it’s threatening to rain any minute, I’m guessing my flowers are the indoor variety.”

“And the sunshine might be on the flowers themselves, meaning they’re yellow flowers.” Checking her paper, Julie’s referring to both her own clue and Sharon’s clue of dandelions.

“Well, Target has plenty of yellow flowers,” Cheryl assures us.

Before heading into the large red-and-white convenience store, we split up into three pairs—Cheryl with Larry, Abby with Sharla, and Sharon for a second time with Julie. Scatter in three directions to hunt for separate Treasures. But though at first the aisles seem strangely empty and quiet for a Saturday morning, we all end up finding a surprising plethora of human Treasures.

Most of these sport pony tails . . . bobbing or swinging from the heads of toddlers, seven-year-olds, mommies, girls and women of all ages.

Including Cheryl herself . . . whose clue this is.

But it’s Cheryl’s sneakers, not her pony tail, that causes Sharon to point her out. “Look, Julie.” She nudges her teammate. “Cheryl’s shoes are striped with all your colors—green, yellow, purple, and pink.”

With Sharon’s prompting, Julie blesses Cheryl before we take off in pursuit of other pony-tailed Treasures.

For Sharon and Julie, the next Treasures prove a mother and daughter pair. At Sharon’s cheery call, Linda brakes her shopping cart where Charlene, her seven-year-old, perches in the child seat swinging lanky legs. Both their pony tails—Linda’s chocolate, Charlene’s honey-blonde—bounce in surprise as Linda whips round in response to Sharon. But right after the Treasure Hunter points out all their clues—including small Charlene’s green jacket, tossed over a shirt festooned with pink trim and green-and-yellow flowers—Linda’s ready with a prayer request.

“You can pray for that boy who went missing from the high-school trip back in Indianapolis. I teach at an elementary school, but I can’t help feeling concerned about that missing high-school boy.” She beams with gratitude as, again with Sharon’s encouragement, Julie asks God aloud for the lost teen’s safe return.

As we bid them good-bye, Sharon points out to Julie that Linda’s husband Tom, trailing close behind them, is wearing a green shirt.

Rounding a corner into the next aisle, Sharon and Julie meet a second mother-daughter duo, both sporting glossy midnight-black pony tails. Katie, this young mother, asks only for a blessing. The Treasure Hunters speak God’s blessings over her and cuddly two-year-old Marie, who—bundled into a sweater striped pink and purple—studies us with wide eyes from her car seat.

As Katie eases her cart round the next corner, an object flutters to the floor from little Marie’s dimpled hand. Sharon scoops it up. “Look, it’s a toy flower with pink and green petals.” As she hurries after their Treasures and thrusts the flower back into the toddler’s outstretched fist, she points out these additional clues to Marie’s surprised and thankful mommy.

Betsy, their third human Treasure—who sports a flaxen pony tail and a purple shirt—tells them with a wide smile, “We’re trying to have a baby.” As Julie prays aloud for this potential new family member, she marvels over the fact that babies is one of Cheryl’s clues.

Meanwhile, Cheryl and Larry meet a Treasure bundled into a purple jacket.

“Do you need prayer for anything, Jana?”

Jana fixes Cheryl with wary eyes and shrugs. “I don’t know.” But she still receives a special blessing . . . as her very reply proves one of Cheryl’s clues.

Soon this pair of Treasure Hunters run into an old friend of Larry’s. “Hey, I know you from where you work over at the community center!” Pam strides up to Larry, regards him with a grin and dancing eyes.

But a shadow crosses her face as, deeper into their conversation, she indicates her small son Braden. Dressed in Cheryl’s clue of a blue shirt, slumped over in their shopping cart, the two-year-old is skimming a toy car across one palm. (Car is also one of Cheryl’s clues, along with babies.) “Braden has a rare brain disorder,” the concerned mother shares in a quieter voice. She receives with gratitude the Treasure Hunters’ prayers for Braden’s healing . . . and, after her husband Ken joins the group from where he’s meandered down another aisle, prayers regarding their search for a new church.

Next, Cheryl and Larry meet Steve . . . whose T-shirt is splashed with pictures of Santa and reindeer. “There’s your unseasonal Christmas tree, Larry,” Cheryl points out with a grin. “Well . . . close enough. And look, his son’s T-shirt has a picture of your skull.”

Steve requests prayer for his newborn baby niece, again confirming Cheryl’s clue of babies. He then surprises the Treasure Hunters by asking with a grateful smile, “Hey, can I pray a blessing over you guys?”

Finally, Cheryl and Larry meet Joyce.

Clad in Sharla’s clue of a white shirt, this Treasure expresses concern for her sister-in-law Jill. “She’s needing a bone-marrow treatment for cancer, and she’ll have to undergo seven days of chemotherapy. On top of that, she’s a teacher. And she’s also caring for her son Eric, who’s bedridden from an accident.” Joyce shakes her head in as much admiration as sorrow over her loved one. “Jill’s really amazing. I can’t imagine how she’s handling it all at once.” The Treasure Hunters agree with Joyce, then join her in speaking words of God’s healing over Jill and Eric.

In the meantime, Abby and Sharla find Liz—unseasonably clad on this blustery wet morning in Sharla’s clue of a tank top. “I’m starting a new job,” Liz confides. The third pair of Treasure Hunters speak over her words of God’s provision (Abby’s clue).

Next, they speak God’s blessings over a blended family . . . whose members include little Joshua (one of Abby’s name clues).

And then they bless little Joseph . . . another of Abby’s name clues. He’s an extra-lively two-year-old who, heedless of the leash leading from his chest harness to his harried mother’s hand, goes scrambling out over the side of her shopping cart. “That poor mom could definitely use our blessings,” Abby comments to Sharla with a chortle.

At last, Abby and Sharla meet Renee . . . one more lady with Cheryl’s clue of a pony tail. “I’m not feeling well,” she confesses, gripping tight to her sunshine-yellow purse. Her face looks more cloudy than sunny as she continues, “I’m experiencing a lot of stress at work, and it’s giving me really bad headaches.” But as the Treasure Hunters lay hands on Renee and speak words of God’s healing, the sunshine returns to her eyes and grateful smile.

After all six of us congregate near the checkout counter to swap stories, Cheryl checks her clue sheet. “It’s about time for us to leave, but Larry and I haven’t yet visited the bakery.”

“Gotta check out those cakes and donuts,” Larry jokes, referring to two more of Cheryl’s remaining clues.

As they dash off to the bakery section, Abby breaks off narrating her final story to glance out into the aisle with sparkling eyes. “Hey, check out that lady who just passed us. She’s wearing another one of my clues—an orange jacket.” After a brief dash of her own up to the Treasure, followed by an interview, she returns and reports with a wide grin. “Her husband’s sister’s having a baby. And guess what his name is? Joshua!”

Soon Cheryl and Larry race back over from the bakery with a final story of their own. “We just met another one of Larry’s friends.” Cheryl elbows him in a teasing way. “You’re sure popular today, Larry.” Then turning back to the group, she reports, “Greta bustled right up to us, smiling big and smoothing down my clue of an apron.

“She told us her son Tim is in the Air Force, where he just got re-stationed from Germany to Romania. He’s been separated from his two-year-old son Ryan, and the little boy is having a really hard time with the separation.” She reflects with a soft smile, “We once again got to speak God’s words of comfort over a baby.”

Before we head toward the exit doors, Cheryl once more checks her clue sheet. “The only clues I have left on here are my two name clues—Julie and Sarah Thomas.” She smiles over at the group’s quietest member. “So, Julie, I think that means we’re meant to pray for your friend with that name. Does she have any special prayer needs?”

One flashes at once into Julie’s mind from a recent e-mail conversation. “Yes. She told me she has a son who’s not a believer.”

The Treasure Hunters surround Julie, lay hands on her as a proxy for our morning’s final Treasure.

Next morning during church . . .

Bob from the worship team steps forward with an exciting report. “You know that high-school boy who’s gone missing from that band trip in Indianapolis? Well, a lot of folks got together to pray for his safe return—and I want to let you know God heard those prayers. The lost boy has been found!”

Julie’s heart thumps with excitement as she recalls the moment she got to pray for that very boy. Only yesterday morning . . . through the request of Katie, her and Sharon’s second Treasure at Target. And the news this lost boy has been found thrills her with a greater hope when she thinks about the son of her friend Sarah—the group’s final Treasure. For God is One who seeks and finds His Treasures . . . those who are lost in more ways than one.



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