Treasure Hunt: Quantity and Quality

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

The adventures of this morning’s two Treasure Hunt teams prove a study in contrasts.

While both teams receive location clues for Rockwall, the first—consisting of Brandy, Jennifer, her daughter Cheyenne and smaller son Corbin, and their friends Patty and Mora—is called into the bustling blood-red world of Target. There they meet and interact with myriads of shoppers . . . so many, in fact, that I use up two pens in jotting down their notes and, running out of space on my own clue sheet, welcome the donations of two more papers!

Meanwhile, the team I join—along with Cheryl, Pastor Cliff, Dustin, and young Collin (Jennifer’s older son)—is led into the peaceful realm of Myers Park. There we meander over sun-kissed green-gold meadows, along paths disappearing through dark archways laced by trees. We spend much time pondering whether to approach a knot of golfers here then a group of focused Frisbee-seekers there . . . after they have located their missing plastic disk.

Yet while one team may far outstrip the other when it comes to finding a quantity of Treasures, all this morning’s encounters will prove rich in quality.

Our human Treasures show up early, before we even split up into teams. Behind the counter of the Starbucks at Tom Thumb, Heather confesses to Iron Man runner Pastor Cliff, “I can’t run. I have an autoimmune disease.” She welcomes the prayers he and Cheryl speak over her after they purchase their morning lattes.

And before we leave Tom Thumb, Jennifer and Brandy pray in Jesus’ Name for Tina. Though fit and trim-looking in her yoga attire, she’s suffering from a sprained shoulder. “I see a multicolored bird,” Brandy shares with Tina as she enfolds her in a hug. “It’s soaring and unencumbered.” Tina receives this prophecy of freedom from pain (Cheryl’s clue) with grateful tears glistening in her eyes.

At Target, little Angel Miguel—who shares the two respective name clues of Cheryl and Brandy—captures the attention of Brandy and Patty. When the two Treasure Hunters pause to admire the baby, with his silky cinnamon skin and melted-chocolate eyes, his mommy Nora tells them her older son Raul has lost his job. She welcomes with thankfulness their prayers for her family’s financial issues (Pastor Cliff’s clue).

Next Brandy and Patty meet Ellen, whose bobbed hair matches Brandy’s clue. She’s thankful to receive their prayers for energy.

But their next Treasure Mona, clad in a blue shirt and white pants—both color clues of Cheryl and Pastor Cliff—proves far more reserved. As Brandy and Patty pass her, Patty flinches with pain (also Cheryl’s clue). She turns to Brandy. “I’ve just been struck by a sudden headache. Could it mean this lady’s prayer need?”

Yet when they stop Mona to ask if she needs prayer, she firmly shakes her head. “No. I already prayed this morning.” After the harried shopper scurries past, the two Treasure Hunters still hold her up to God on their own—interceding for her till Patty’s headache melts away.

As they pass another stressed shopper, whose screaming toddler sprawls out in the aisle drumming angry fists and heels against the floor, Patty receives a sense the mommy is “at her breaking point.” She and Brandy also hold these Treasures up in silent intercession.

And as they near the lineup of motorized carts, Patty and Brandy spot a lady limping up to seize one. “I have congestive heart failure,” Gladys shares (meeting Dustin’s clue of heartache). She receives with thankfulness their prayers for her healing.

Over in another section of Target, Jennifer and little Corby meet Stacy. She’s shopping with her sons Josh and Jacob—a lively pair of two-year-old twins. The busy mom welcomes their prayers for her children (Jennifer’s clue).

They also meet Donna, putt-putting along in a motorized cart. “I need prayer for my upcoming heart surgery,” Donna shares.

The mom-and-son Treasure Hunters next pray for Alice and her husband Andrew. He’s shuffling along the baby aisle (also matching Jennifer’s clue of children) with the help of his cane (another clue Jennifer received). “Our son Ryan is going to a birthday party today,” Alice shares—and Jennifer remembers birthday party is one of Patty’s clues. “The party is for his friend Josh, whose mother is having some real struggles. Please pray that even in the face of his mom’s issues, Josh will have a special time at his party.”

Then there is Joanna. Clad in a blue shirt, she seems to pop up everywhere Jennifer and Corby turn. When they finally intercept this persistent human Treasure, Joanna welcomes their prayers for her father Glenn—who’s in very bad health.

Meanwhile over in the shoe department, where the two teenage Hunters are scoping out potential Treasures . . .

“Hey, Mora. Check out that lady!” Cheyenne points toward Gina, eyes dancing with excitement. “She’s wearing two of your clues—silver earrings and multicolored shoes.” When the girls approach this obvious Treasure, they learn Gina’s moving to Chicago in pursuit of a new job.

They also find two Treasures each wearing Cheyenne’s clue of a green shirt. Linda welcomes prayer for her daughter Kayla, who’s headed off to college . . . while Joyce’s daughter Megan has a more sobering need. She’s been diagnosed with scoliosis (meeting Jennifer’s clue of back pain).

Finally, the girls pray for a married couple—Bob and June. Bob’s clad in blue, while June strides alongside him in Mora’s clue of multicolored sandals. “We need financial help,” the couple shares with the two young Treasure Hunters.

Even after all six members of Team One at last flock out of Target and pile back into Jennifer’s van, they find their Treasure hunting far from over. Dustin’s clue of waterfall leads this group to pull into a car wash. There, amidst a knot of elementary-aged football players—congregating near a tunnel-shaped tent (another clue of Dustin’s) and involved in a fundraiser—Brandy and Cheyenne speak God’s words of blessing over Pam and her young athlete son Steven. On the way out, Cheyenne also prays for someone sporting Patty’s clue of red and black.

In the meantime . . .

Throughout this past hour—during which the Team One Hunters squeeze past shoppers pushing loaded carts through narrow aisles blaring with Target’s tomato-red décor—the members of Team Two move at a far more leisurely pace. We amble along tree-lined winding walkways, cross wide emerald-velvet meadows. Stroll over countryside dotted with dogs and yellow flowers.

Even on the ride over to Myers Park, the clues striking our senses include sunflowers (a cheery spray of my clue I spot in a neighbor’s front yard) and dog (an inky critter hanging out the window of a nearby car, catching the breeze with flapping ears and lolling tongue). And the moment we reach the park itself, I see her. Not just any dog (a clue I share with Pastor Cliff and Cheryl), but the dog. For Beauty proves an exact replica of the mustard-colored Shepherd mix, jaws parted in a broad sweet smile, I saw behind my scrinched-shut eyelids during our opening prayer.

Her elderly owner, Greg, is clearly our first human Treasure. He sports a blue cap (a clue shared by Cheryl and Pastor Cliff). And while young Collin and I stroke Beauty’s silky golden fur, Cliff and Cheryl learn that Greg suffers from pain in his back (Jennifer’s clue), as well as the left side of his leg. (Left is one of Brandy’s clues.) Though he reports no noticeable changes after Cheryl speaks God’s words of healing over him, Greg expresses heartfelt thanks for all our intercession. He assures us, “I believe in the power of prayer.”

After Greg, things grow quiet for awhile. Yet clues continue calling out to us. “Hey, I see you’re a fellow mathematician.” A stocky young man waves to Dustin, grinning with delight at the slogan on his T-shirt: – 1+ 1= 0. (Well, the – 1 is actually represented by a symbol only mathematicians would understand.) They chat . . . about nothing but math. Yet Victor, with his dark hair and beard (Patty’s clue), appears to be another human Treasure.

So do the band of folks traipsing across the meadow, stooping with eyes peeled for a missing Frisbee. One man’s cap is tan, another’s blue (the respective clues of Patty, Cheryl, and Pastor Cliff). But as they focus on finding their plastic disk-shaped Treasure, we hold our group of Treasures up to God in silent intercession.

“Look, Julie, that lady is wearing your clue of purple.” Cheryl points her out with a smile as we head toward the pool (which fits Dustin’s clue of water). But when we approach the woman hunkered forward in her beach chair, and Cheryl asks her about prayer needs, she shakes her head. Fixing narrowed eyes on the small bodies splashing through the pool’s shimmering ripples, she offers a terse reply.

“I can’t. Gotta keep both eyes at all times on my kids.”

We stroll off agreeing she’s still our Treasure, and we hold her up to God on our own. As Cheryl intercedes for her aloud, I’m surprised to hear her speak of the spiritual darkness surrounding this lady, of the oppression needing to be broken off from her so she can receive God’s love. “How can you tell all that?” I ask with wonder. “How do you know she’s not just really focused on guarding her kids?”

“After awhile, you come to sense when someone is resistant,” Cheryl replies. As we meander along the pathway, she teaches me truths about spiritual discernment . . . which leads to a wealth of other topics. My husband’s gradual healing . . . and the fact that God’s timing for when healing takes place is not always the same as ours. The varied and quirky calls of assorted birds. The beauty of God’s creation . . . including the gentle breeze that wafts over us, bringing relief from the sweltering heat of late July.

As we walk we praise God for this breeze, as well as for His trilling birds and flitting butterflies. Catching a distant glimpse of Pastor Cliff, Dustin, and Collin—who stand ringed about another human Treasure and her dog—we intercede for them and thank God for this encounter.

Passing through a God-made tunnel—a mysterious black-green archway formed by leafy branches tangled together above our path—we find another Treasure of our own. Propped against the restroom wall beside the water fountain, John—sporting a tan cap—and his small son Braden greet us wreathed in sunny smiles. John welcomes Cheryl’s offer of prayer, sharing that his wife is dealing with some life decisions (Patty’s clue). Further conversation leads to him revealing two surprises. “I’ve been to your church before. I have a good friend from my church who goes there now.” Turns out John’s good friend is also a good friend of Cheryl’s!

Circling back around to our fellow team members—who still stand chatting with their human Treasure Rhonda, while stroking the head of her pit bull mix Tiara—we learn Rhonda rescues dogs from abusive situations. She’s requested prayer for Tiara to find a good home.

Back at Pallio’s Pizza, where both Jennifer and Brandy from the other team plop down close to me and volunteer their stories and their clue sheets for me to document, I learn very different Treasure Hunts can hold many things in common. Whether bustling with shoppers or peaceful amidst birds and breezes and a dog or two—whether yielding a huge quantity of Treasures or only a few—all plant seeds of God’s love into human lives.

Some folks may prove welcoming, others wary or resistant, still others unaware they’re being touched at all by someone’s prayers. Some may be more touched by discovering a mutual friend . . . or a fellow mathematician with a cryptic equation on his T-shirt.

And some, like me, may be touched by fellow Treasure Hunters who take time to teach me about spiritual discernment, share favorite bird calls, or engage me in discussions about how God shows up in math or fairy tales. Or—like two Treasure Hunters from the other team—prove eager to share with me their stories and clue sheets without my having to ask. I find all these fellow Treasure Hunters Treasures in themselves . . . and my time with them rich in quality.

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