Treasure Hunt: Blue Shirts, Frisbees, and Two Species of Treasures

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

On this first Treasure Hunt of the new year, our first human Treasure is a Treasure Hunter—Bonnye. During our quest for clues, Abby receives her name . . . and Jennifer her prayer need for relief from jaw pain. Pastor Cliff and Abby lay hands on her and pray, the rest of us joining in silent intercession, before we split into four teams and leave our meeting place at Tom Thumb.

On the surface, this Treasure Hunt seems quiet as our agreed-upon destination—the sun-splashed green meadows of Myers Park in Rockwall. Unless, of course, we count the menacing barks and growls of several large canines facing off by the entrance gate of the dog park. Though dog proves one of Abby’s clues, we sense these aggressive critters need a wide berth. “Let’s check out the human park,” Abby advises her team members, Jennifer and me. Yet as the three of us head back out through the gate, the first Treasure we find is a dog.

Tripping down the walkway, the dainty greyhound wobbles as his slender left hind leg folds in a limp. “Andrew’s leg always does that in this weather,” his owner Sue explains when a gust of breeze blasts across the path.

We count Andrew’s leg as still another clue, having received arthritis, knee, ankle, and hip pain (the respective clues of Bonnye, Cheryl, and Jennifer). “Animals are God’s Treasures too,” Abby assures us. “They’re part of His creation.” But since Sue seems in a hurry, Abby leads us in a private prayer for Andrew while the greyhound and his owner scoot ahead.

We end up praying in private for all our human Treasures, too.

True, they prove sparse in number. Most of our team’s hunt feels more like a peaceful stroll past budding trees ( a clue of both Abby and Justin), darting squirrels, and rippling blades of grass. Yet nearly every person who does cross paths with us sports Jennifer’s clue of a blue shirt (whose color clue also came to Bonnye, Caitlin, and me). And several carry Abby’s—and Pastor Cliff’s—clue of Frisbees.

“Why aren’t we stopping them?” I ask when my teammates exchange cheery hellos with several blue-shirted folks loping past us.

“They don’t want to be stopped,” Abby explains. “They’re not slowing down. After awhile, you come to read the signs.” (At least some of us do, I can’t help thinking to myself.) But soon she and Jennifer do approach a loitering knot of blue-clad, Frisbee-clutching men . . . one who’s also sporting Jennifer’s clue of red shoes.

“Nope. We’re good.” Steve shakes his head beneath a cap that proclaims the logo of a Christian company, his eyes growing wary at Abby’s question about prayer needs. And he slips behind one of his friends before they scurry off down the path.

“A lot of guys, even Christians, feel uncomfortable when someone asks them if they need prayer,” Abby reflects concerning that encounter. “I think it’s a macho thing. They see needing anything as a sign of weakness.” Still we intercede for them while striding on ahead, trusting God to meet whatever needs they felt unwilling to share.

The guy Treasures of Pastor Cliff, Justin, and Hunter prove a lot more receptive. “Yeah, I’ve got arthritis in my left knee.” Bob—clad in Hunter’s clue of a green jacket—grins with appreciation as he extends his leg to the all-male team.

As we pass them, I overhear his wife Marie sharing similar symptoms in their liver-spotted beagle. “Buster’s got arthritis in his left back leg.” The canine Treasure proves eager for prayer as the human one, lolling his tongue in an enormous doggy smile.

Later Pastor Cliff will share, “Over in a grove of trees we also found John, a good friend of my son. Along with a special cap—the one Hunter saw specifically while we were first receiving clues—John wore a green jacket and was sitting at a table loaded with Frisbees, which he dispenses. When we prayed over him for direction and guidance in his life, he said, ‘My mom tells me I always wear green . . . and that I’m a treasure.’ ”

Maybe, I muse, guys don’t so much mind receiving prayer from other guys.

Meanwhile, Cheryl and Caitlin find a Treasure that will amaze Caitlin’s mother Jenny. “You remember how Jenny told us, back at Tom Thumb, that she assumed her clues of hearts, boxes, candy wrappers, and the colors red and white were probably just having to do with thoughts about Valentine’s Day coming up?” Cheryl’s eyes dance when, back at the parking lot of Myers Park, she recounts to me her team’s adventure. “Well, we found Linda, a teacher who also does photography.

“When I first saw her two boxes of photo props, I thought the first box contained Hunter’s clue of clothes. And then we noticed the other box was filled with wrapped red-and-white candy hearts . . . along with Caitlin’s clue of roses.”

“Here’s one of the roses.” Caitlin beams as she thrusts aloft an elegant blood-red bloom.

“When we approached,” Cheryl continues, “Linda was snapping a photo of a baby.” She taps my clue sheet, where I have printed “baby” as one of Bonnye’s clues. “And when we asked her about prayer needs, she told us—with great excitement—that she’s hoping to have a baby and could use prayer concerning her longing to get pregnant. She was very thankful for our prayers.”

On our ride back to Tom Thumb, Caitlin fills me in on her and Cheryl’s earlier Treasure. “We met Elizabeth by this house in a field—matching Cheryl’s clue ‘fields of grace.’ She gives tours through the old historic house, which is also a kind of museum that’s been recently transported to the park. When I pointed out her clue of a red heart necklace, she told me her best friend’s daughter gave it to her. I found it interesting this girl’s named Caitlin, just like me . . . especially since my aunt also gave me a special necklace.”

“Jenny and I found a lot of my clues,” Bonnye shares. “We met Marisa over in the playground, where her two kids were swinging in the sunshine. Both Marisa and one of her kids were wearing blue. We got to pray for their grandma, who has Alzheimer’s.”

“And we also found my son Hunter’s German shepherd,” Jenny chimes in. “He was being walked by an elderly Asian lady named Su Lin. We prayed for Su Lin’s health and for the safety of her family members. Hard to tell how much of what we said she could understand, but she seemed very grateful for our prayers.”

We’re just pulling into Tom Thumb’s parking lot when Bonnye whirls, points to Jenny. “Look, Julie. I noticed before that you have ‘owls’ on your clue sheet. . . .” I turn to regard Jenny, seated next to me inside the van. Dangling from her earlobes are two small sparkling silver owls.

“And,” Abby points out, “she’s even wearing blue! I think you’re our last Treasure for the morning, Jenny. Do you have any prayer needs?”

Jenny knits her brow, considering. “Well, I have been experiencing some pain off and on in my left side. . . .”

Abby turns to grin at me. “She’s your Treasure, Julie. Go for it.”

So for the first time on this first Treasure Hunt of the new year, I get to pray aloud . . . all the while marveling over how our Hunt began and ended with Treasure Hunters as our Treasures. And how it took Bonnye—our morning’s first Treasure—to notice our final one.

This morning’s theme? I’m not quite sure. Two species of Treasures—both canine and human, yet sharing the same struggles with their legs—seemed thankful to receive our prayers. A plethora of male Treasures seemed wary of sharing . . . unless fellow males did the asking. Like always, clues that seemed normal as Valentine’s Day hearts showed up in remarkable ways. And our trip was bookended by two Treasures who both gave and received prayer.

The only common thread? Perhaps it’s that even on a peaceful, balmy morning in a sparsely-populated park, God showers His Treasure Hunters with surprises.

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