Treasure Hunt: A Cord of Three Strands

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

As I approach Cheryl this morning in the line of the Tom Thumb Starbucks, she’s shaking her head even as she smiles and waves to me. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to call off this morning’s Treasure Hunt. Nobody else will be joining us today.” After I peek out the store’s glass doors to confirm that my husband, who’s just dropped me off, has already hightailed it out the parking lot, Cheryl pulls out her cell phone. (I’ve neglected to bring mine.) “Here, Julie. Maybe if you call him now, you’ll catch him before he’s gone too far—”

“Hi, guys!”

A tap on my shoulder, and I spin round into Sharla’s welcoming hug. As she moves forward to wrap her arms about the team leader, Cheryl’s smile broadens and her eyes twinkle with fresh enthusiasm. “On second thought,” she slides her phone back into her purse, “now that there’s three of us here, let’s go for it!”

As always, we head for Tom Thumb’s tables to hear Cheryl’s devotion before praying and listening for the morning’s clues. “When we pray, we must be careful about what we’re expecting from God,” she cautions us. “Sometimes our circumstances aren’t what we want from Him, but they can be part of His divine plan. His thoughts aren’t our thoughts, so we’re called to trust Him no matter how things look to us at the moment.”

Trusting God with two location clues that enter Cheryl’s mind during our silent listening, we first head out for the trail circling the Rowlett Community Center. Though the trail’s bedecked with trees and awash in Sharla’s clue of bright sunshine—which warms us in the face of a blustering November wind—it appears empty of any human Treasures. “Let’s try inside the Community Center itself,” Cheryl suggests.

We stroll through the recreation rooms to find only a class of white-robed children. They’re all intent on listening to the commands of their instructor while watching a young student engage in the graceful kicks and spins of a martial art. Pausing before the glass wall separating us from from this class, we hold the students up in silent intercession. Not to mention a lady with one leg encased in a medical boot . . . who, while she’s limping out the door ahead of us, whips out her cell phone and plants it to one ear before heading across the parking lot toward her car.

“I’m trusting God has completed what He wanted to accomplish here through us.” Cheryl glances back at the center. “Sometimes the people in places like this, run by the government, just need to receive a touch from heaven’s Kingdom.”

We take off toward her second location clue . . . Target.

There, in this store themed with Sharla’s clue of red—despite the rather sparse collection of shoppers for a Saturday morning—we soon encounter our first human Treasure who wants prayer. Linda’s wheeling her cart across a spot halfway between a banner advertising white chocolate M&M’s (which matches Cheryl’s clue of white chocolate) and a display of makeup (Sharla’s clue). As the hair flowing down Linda’s back also meets Cheryl’s clue of dirty blonde, the team leader hurries over to share with her our mission. Sharla and I intercede for her beneath the banner, which is draped above the shelves laden with candy (Sharla’s clue).

“Linda just wanted a general blessing,” Cheryl reports when she rejoins us. “But she was very open to prayer, as well as interested in our church. There’s no question she’s one of our Treasures.”

As we all stride forward down the aisle, Sharla sees her. “Look, that little girl’s wearing a tank top, one of my clues. Even though it’s pink instead of red . . .”

“Pink is one of my clues,” I interject.

“And it’s unusual to see anyone wearing a tank top on a windy November day,” Cheryl points out with a broad grin. “Besides, look at her mom—she’s also wearing pink. They’re definitely our next Treasures. Go talk to them, Sharla.”

Renee—the raven-haired, pink-clad mother—shakes her head after Sharla explains to her our mission. “I cannot think of any specific prayers I need, though I will take a blessing for life in general.” Her words lilt in a musical foreign accent (Sharla’s clue). And while she speaks her daughter Chloe, the sprightly seven-year-old in the pink tank top, bounces on her toes and twirls in both directions . . . her dirty-blonde tresses slapping one wing-like shoulder then the other.

“Mommy.” Chloe’s small voice pipes sudden excitement as she bounces again and fixes Renee with earnest blue eyes. “What about Aunt Miriam? They could pray for her. She just had several strokes, remember?”

Her mother beams and nods. God’s peace flows over our group as, prompted the reminder from this Spirit-sensitive young human Treasure, we intercede together for the healing of Chloe’s Aunt Miriam. “Kids so often show a special connection to God,” Cheryl muses afterwards as we marvel over little Chloe’s faith and boldness.

Our next human Treasure sports several of Cheryl’s clues. Lorna’s clad in jeans and a sweater spattered with variegated patterns and shades of blue. And as she inches down an aisle rifling through the clothing rack, I see a mass of dirty-blonde curls foaming down her back.

While Sharla and I intercede at the aisle’s end, Cheryl engages Lorna . . . only to hurry back a moment later to report, “She said ‘no.’ ” But any disappointment fading her smile disappears as she adds, “I’m still trusting God that she is one of our Treasures.”

As we meander through the almost-deserted aisles to scout out any others, I spot one. Another blue sweater with variegated shades and patterns, stretched across the bulk of a chocolate-skinned woman striding straight in our direction. I point her out just as the lady turns, disappears down an aisle. We head down that aisle too . . . and at first seem to see no one. Except for the female figure moving several feet in front of us. But she sports a dark blue jacket. Not a sweater.

A sudden thought strikes me. That lady with the sweater: Had she also worn a jacket . . . one that was open at the front?

The instant this question pops into my mind, the woman turns sideways. And I catch a second glimpse—between the two front sides of her unzipped jacket—of her variegated blue sweater.

Trying not to appear too obvious, we all stroll toward her then cluster round her as she pauses to examine a display of gift bags. When Cheryl explains to her our mission, Yolanda breaks into a warm smile. “You can pray for my healing,” she tells us. While she offers no specifics, we trust God with all the details He knows. And with me praying aloud following Cheryl’s encouragement, while she and Sharla back me up with intercession, we share faith that Yolanda will be healed.

“It’s interesting how God had the three of us work together,” Cheryl observes as we’re exiting the store. “First I saw the Treasure who had both our clues, Sharla. Then you pointed out the Treasure who had our clues along with Julie’s color clue. And you, Julie, noticed another Treasure with my clue . . . a lady I hadn’t thought of before as a Treasure.

“I’m so glad we decided to go for it after all,” she continues as we strike out across the parking lot. “I came so close to canceling this morning’s Treasure Hunt—not even considering the fact that Julie and I would have still been able to go on our own, traveling as a pair. But when you showed up, Sharla . . . wow! I knew we had our team.”

Her description of a near-disappointment transformed into God’s better plan recalls me to her earlier teaching that “. . . in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). And as for His plan itself . . . the one He shaped for this morning’s three-person team?

I’m reminded of the words from Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

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