Treasure Hunt: Patterns and Pink Shoelaces on Pi Day

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

“ ‘Don’t hesitate to receive joy from Me.’ ” Abby has just read Jesus’ advice for us this morning from her devotional Jesus Calling . . . when in breezes our group’s final Treasure Hunter, participating for the first time.

Her name is Joy.

Could this be more than coincidence?

When we share our clues around the table at Tom Thumb, Caitlin and I both receive butterfly and dragonfly. Caitlin also receives bridge, while Joy and Jennifer both see images of water. Since the others’ clues all seem to consist of store merchandise, I assume the four of us are meant to take off for the lapping lake at Myers Park . . . while everyone else maneuvers through the bustling aisles of Walmart.

But as we’re all heading out into the Tom Thumb parking lot, Caitlin veers toward the larger group. “I feel really led to go to a store today.” Caught off-guard, determined to team with the person who shares my clues, I swivel in her direction.

Sharla stops me in mid-step. “Julie, you said you were going with Jennifer and Joy.”

She’s right. I did say that—not only because of my clues, but because I prefer peaceful nature preserves to the chattering chaos of super centers. Yet minus Caitlin as my partner, I must admit I feel hesitant—in more than just one sense—to “receive Joy.” I don’t know Joy at all, while she and Jennifer appear to be close friends. Will the pair of them want me tagging along as a third person? Battling a familiar spirit of rejection, I go trotting after the two. They warmly welcome me . . . and the familiar spirit flees.

As we sail down the highway in Joy’s car, I realize all three of us have Sharla’s clue of names beginning with J. Could this be more than coincidence?

Halfway to our location, as we’re crossing a bridge, Joy points out her window. “Look. There’s a butterfly.” And when we pull into the parking lot at Myers Park, myriads of other clues pop up as well. A spray of yellow flowers (another clue shared by Caitlin and me). Tied to a post, a bobbing cluster of balloons (a clue shared by Jenny and Hunter). And arching across the rippling lake—which fits my companions’ clue of water—still another bridge.

But as for human Treasures?

“A wedding party.” Jennifer shakes her head, a rueful grimace flickering across her face. “I really don’t want to crash a wedding party.” She speaks with empathy . . . having just been a bride herself the week before. We stroll along the pathway that winds between the lake and the wedding tent, beneath which the celebrants bustle about with plates and picnic baskets. Casting sidelong glances at them, we seek God’s wisdom for prayer opportunities.

No clear directions seem to drift into any of our minds. Gusts of wind, spiced with miniature raindrops, go spurting across our path. A teenage boy with a yellow folder tucked beneath one arm lopes past us from the parking lot to the tent. “He kind of stands out to me,” Joy admits. But before we can step closer to him, the youth has joined his friends in the wedding party.

We end up praying God’s blessings over this wedding . . . from a distance. Newlywed Jennifer blesses the bride and groom aloud, asking God to protect them and their loved ones from the storm clouds looming overhead. Then we head back to meet up with our fellow Treasure Hunters at Walmart.

At first, the super center seems surprisingly quiet—even calmer than the park, with its rollicking wedding party. When Abby barrels up to us, trailed by Justin and Hunter, we learn even the co-leader’s team has not yet found any Treasures. But as we file down an empty aisle, Jennifer points to a shelf displaying backpacks in colorful designs. “Look, Julie, there’s your butterflies.” So Caitlin was right, I think. Walmart sports butterflies as well . . . including one with vibrant swirls of blue tipping its wings.

Rounding a corner we meet up with the third team—Caitlin, Jenny, and Sharla. And this team has found Treasures.

“We met Sara in a red jacket,” Sharla reports with sparkling eyes. “She’s shopping with her little son Eric. He’s only about seven, but he’s the one who spoke up and asked us to pray for his grandma Jane—who’s suffering from pain in her knees and back.” Checking my clue sheet, I see the clue red is shared by Sharla, Joy, and Hunter, while Sharla—who prayed aloud for Jane’s healing—received the clue of knee pain. And Abby received right knee, which certainly fits this Treasure as well.

“And I met little Amber, who wore my clue of pink shoelaces,” Jenny puts in. “When I asked if she needed prayer, though, she just whispered ‘no’ and darted off. I think I scared her.” Before our two teams again split up, we all cluster together to pray God’s blessings—privately—over the startled little girl.

As Jennifer, Joy, and I turn into another aisle, Jennifer spots Amy, who sports a bob of platinum blonde hair (another clue shared by Jennifer and Joy). Amy also says “no” to prayer, racing past us with a harried expression. But we hold her up as well in private intercession, asking God to meet her in her unexpressed needs.

Next Joy finds sweet Ethel, whose heart-shaped face beams beneath a vivid red kerchief. Eyes glowing behind her granny glasses, Ethel proves only too thankful for prayer. “I volunteer on Thursdays at the jail here in Rockwall. The prisoners there really need more people to come visit them and share with them about the Lord. Please pray that more folks would be faithful in this ministry.”

Passing through another aisle, we again run into Abby, Justin, and Hunter. And this time Abby’s chortling with delight over her team’s find. “Guys, we just met the coolest Treasure. Linda asked us to pray for her family’s health. And guess what? She was not only wearing the blue Walmart uniform, but she also had long blonde hair . . . and pink shoes with pink shoelaces!”

And when the third team sidles up to join us, I soon learn why God led Caitlin to Walmart. “I met Dave, dressed in my clue of a light blue shirt. And he told me about his daughter Renee.” Her eyes mist with tears as she adds, “Renee’s fiance John, on a tour of combat duty, recently committed suicide. We prayed God’s peace over their whole family.”

Despite our sorrow over this final Treasure’s tragedy, a light note prances into our group as Jennifer asks with a grin, “Did you guys know today is Pi Day?”

My mouth-watering vision of crusts packed with creamy chocolate or pumpkin filling shatters when she explains, “The mathematical kind of pi. Today’s date—three-fourteen-fifteen—has the same digits as the number pi. So nerdy types all over the country are celebrating today by eating the other kind of pie . . . and even by holding special pi weddings.” (I’ll later learn that math professors Dustin and Brandy missed this morning’s Treasure Hunt to attend the “pi wedding” of another math-minded couple.)

Riding back to Tom Thumb in Abby’s van, we talk more about weddings. When I share how our team held back from crashing the wedding party at Myers Park and only blessed the couple from a distance, she bursts into another chortle of delight. “Hey! That wedding party had to be the reason you guys were called to Myers Park. God no doubt used your prayers to bless that couple in far more ways than you can imagine.

“Caitlin’s clue of bridge, for example. Sure, you all were standing near an actual bridge at the park. But a bridge can also mean a transition from one season of life to another . . . like when two single people transition into life as a married couple.”

When I mull over Abby’s words, I realize this morning’s Hunt proved rich in God’s patterns—far more than coincidences—no less than in truths with double meanings.

Such as . . .

On a day celebrating a number whose first digit is three, our group split into three teams consisting of three Treasure Hunters each.

By calling Caitlin to Walmart, God blessed through her a family who needed His peace in the face of tragedy.

Though Jenny’s clue of pink shoelaces might have startled a small girl, God used it to bless another Treasure’s family with good health. And through our intercession, He no doubt blessed His little-girl Treasure too.

On the day two would-be Treasure Hunters attended a “pi wedding,” God called a third Treasure Hunter—the very one who just last week celebrated her own wedding—to speak His blessings over still another wedding. (A third wedding.)

On the day when people celebrated pi by eating pie, God blessed several folks in more than just one way. Through Jennifer’s prayers for God’s protection from the storm, He no doubt will protect two newlyweds both from the kind of storm that explodes from brooding thunderclouds . . . and from future storms in their marriage.

And despite the threats of storms and familiar spirits, He freed me this morning—in more than just one way—to “receive Joy.”

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