Treasure Hunt: Surprise Divine Appointments at the Harbor

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

On the morning of a major storm forecast—complete with thunder and lightning—the Harbor seems the last place God would call us to. Yet several of our clues—each one offered to more than one Hunter—include seagulls, waves, outside, and yellow flowers. Clearly these indicate that God’s thoughts regarding location are not our own.

Several earlier visits to the lake under azure skies and sunshine have yielded golden blossoms, wheeling birds, and sparkling crests of water as our only Treasures (well, almost). So it’s all the more surprising to find, beneath a leaden sky of inky clouds, entire clusters of humans milling about the shops and along the shoreline. Instant human Treasures—one after the other sporting multiple clues.

Dark and menacing as the overhead clouds at first appear, they release on us not a single raindrop. Instead, as we head toward the Harbor, they seem to shimmer like mirrors reflecting hidden sunlight. And the air beneath them stays balmy . . . calm as God’s rest Cheryl’s assured us He has promised us this morning.

The moment we step onto the pathway leading into the shopping complex—an area frothing with beds of yellow flowers—we spot Lorene. She’s perched on the first bench we see, as though she’s waiting for us. Well, at least as though she’s waiting for Bonnye. For she’s dressed in Bonnye’s clues of a blue shirt spangled with white stars (or what resemble stars, though they turn out to be polka dots).

While Bonnye plops down onto the bench to engage Lorene in a heartfelt conversation, Cheryl leads Pastor Cliff, Sharla, and me several feet away to intercede in private. When Bonnye bounces back to us, her eyes are dancing. “Lorene’s a strong Christian. When I gave her our opening line, ‘This might sound crazy,’ she smiled and assured me, ‘No. I don’t think you’re crazy.’ She welcomed my prayers for her sore throat, and then she grabbed my hand and prayed for me. When I wrapped her in a hug, she blessed our whole group. She even asked if she could put us on her prayer list!”

Cheryl shakes her head with wonder. “When I first saw her,” she confesses, “I thought, ‘For sure this lady’s someone who will just blow us off, think we’re crazy.’ That’s the sense I had about her. It again shows that God knows so much more than we do.”

Next, rounding a corner, we spot—

“Look, Sharla, there’s your wheelchair.” As Cheryl indicates the man parked in this chair at the walkway’s opposite end, I marvel at how one of the clues Sharla again received first thing this morning—hours before we ever prayed together as a group—has appeared so soon in such an unlikely location. Another surprise divine appointment.

While Cheryl leads Bonnye and me in private intercession, Sharla and Pastor Cliff stride over to engage this second human Treasure. Soon they hurry back to report, “We prayed for Jeff’s grandson, that he would find a job. And Jeff also welcomed our prayers that he would walk again.”

On a bench near the docking station (Cheryl’s clue), a young woman sits slumped in solitude. Shadows seem to creep across her brooding face. Taking note as well of her blue shirt with white stripes, Cheryl approaches her to ask about prayer needs. At once this third Treasure’s cloudy face bursts into sunshine. “Yes, I’d love prayer for my sister Amy—that she’d make better life decisions.”

After enfolding her in prayer Cheryl asks, “By the way, what’s your name?”

“Andrea.”

We realize her name is one of Sharla’s early-morning clues. Another special Treasure has shown up.

“You know,” Cheryl muses as we meander alongside the lake’s rippling waves (Pastor Cliff’s clue) beneath Sharla’s flock of screeching seagulls (a clue received by both Cliff and Sharla), “Andrea seemed really concerned about her sister Amy. I think she was also struggling with anxiety and fear.” (Checking my clue sheet, I notice those are more of Cheryl’s clues.)

Heading back toward the shopping complex, Cheryl points out another young woman sauntering in our direction. With one raised hand, she’s scrubbing at her eyes. “Look, Julie. There’s your Treasure. She seems to be having trouble with her eyes, plus she’s wearing your clue of purple.” But before I can step forward I see Pastor Cliff—who’s also received purple as a clue—pounding past me toward her while explaining to her our mission.

He soon finds out Elaine—whose feet are encased in Sharla’s clue of white tennis shoes—is planning to marry her fiance Ryan in forty-nine days . . . right here at the Harbor. “We came down here to pray for God’s confirmation about our marriage,” Elaine shares. “We both wanted to hear from Him, to be sure we’re in His will.” At that moment Ryan—wearing blue—shows up and plants himself beside her. After Cliff prays over the couple and blesses their upcoming marriage, Bonnye adds her prayers against the allergies burning Elaine’s eyes.

“God sent us here to the Harbor for them at just the right moment,” Cliff observes as we’re strolling past a nearby bed of black-eyed Susans (still more yellow flowers). “They just really needed to know that God hears them personally and cares about their lives.”

Posing at the center of the large grassy area opposite the cinema, a large family clusters together in wait for a photo to be snapped. “Look.” Sharla indicates the man clutching the camera. “I think he’s the person I saw in my mind this morning—the one wearing a white shirt, blue jeans, and white tennis shoes.”

Accompanied by Cheryl, she hurries across the grass to interview this final human Treasure. Though Raul speaks no English and seems to want no prayer, Cheryl manages through hand gestures to convey her desire to bless him by snapping a family photo. One with him in it . . . so the entire family can be in the picture together.

Gazing across the grass at this family, I notice in the group a stubby lady with licorice hair flowing down her back. She’s also clad in a white shirt, blue denim capris, and white tennis shoes. Could she be yet another divine appointment?

“I never thought about her,” Sharla admits when I ask her about this lady later on. “Maybe because she was wearing capris instead of regular jeans. And Raul, the man we talked to, turned out to be wearing a yellow shirt.” Nevertheless, we hold them both up in prayer as potential divine encounters and definite Treasures. After all, only God knows what is truly going on inside each one.

Before driving me home, Sharla takes me on an errand to Bob and Michele’s house. Ranger, their long-haired Golden Retriever, lopes up to welcome us at the door with a huge grin. As I sift my fingers through his rippling corn-silk coat, I can’t help wondering whether to count him as my clue of a yellow dog. Maybe Ranger didn’t accompany us on this morning’s Treasure Hunt. But his friendly greeting still affirms to me that God honored our stepping out to find His surprise divine encounters.

As did a sky that, however cloudy, still held back its storm behind soft shimmers of light the whole time we went hunting for God’s human Treasures.



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