The Joy of Finding What God Has Been Hiding
In July 2012, TIME magazine reported on a man in Defiance, Ohio, named Karl Kissner, who found a green box packed with twine in the attic of his late aunt’s home. Inside the box was a large collection of baseball cards, most probably belonging to the home’s previous owner, his grandfather, who had died in the 1940s. When Mr. Kissner opened the box and saw the cards, he knew they were different than other cards he had seen, but having been put in charge of the cleaning out of his aunt’s home and with so much yet to be done, he set the box aside. For two weeks, the card collection sat untouched on top of a dresser. Later, when he made time to look through the contents of the box more closely, Karl discovered that many of these cards were of baseball Hall of Famers like Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Connie Mack, and others. Included in the collection of all-time greats was a Honus Wagner—one of the most rare baseball cards in the world. Mr. Kissner thought that these cards may be worth something, and he was right.
Memorabilia experts were called on to authenticate the collection, a rare series of cards from 1910, and they determined that these mint-condition cards were genuine originals over a century old. As to the worth of the collection, it was instantly valued at over 3 million dollars. It is called the greatest sports memorabilia find in history, and it is now the one to which all others will be compared.
As I read the account detailing Mr. Kissner’s historical discovery, I found one part of the story exceptionally amazing. It wasn’t the list of Hall of Famers present in the cards or the impossibly perfect condition the cards had been preserved in. It wasn’t even the 3-million-dollar price tag put on the collection. What caught my attention most were the two weeks the box spent on top of a dresser. The cards eventually found their way to a bank vault, but the fact that it took more than half a month to get there could only mean one thing: this man had unearthed a treasure and didn’t even know it.
How many times has a valuable object passed through someone’s hands completely unnoticed and unguarded because he failed to recognize its value when he saw it? More serious still, how many golden opportunities have been presented to individuals, but they failed to act on them because they were busy with something else, convinced that whatever it was they were doing was more important? Unfortunately, not all treasures come in an old wooden chest overflowing with diamonds and pearls, and not all opportunities ring the doorbell wearing a bow and a sign that says, “I’ll make you rich.” In fact, the wealthiest people are those who at some point in their lives saw something as an opportunity and acted while everyone else looked at the same thing and saw only a waste of time. Our lives can be enriched by taking the time to study both the lives of those who found treasure and those who let it slip away.
In Mark 10, a man goes running to Jesus and kneels down in front of Him. “Good Teacher,” he asks, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds, and the two men talk briefly with each other. Through the course of their conversation, it becomes obvious to us, as I’m sure it is to Jesus, that this man has a hungry heart and a genuine question concerning the condition of his soul. He has given his best effort to live a good life by keeping the commandments, but still his heart feels incomplete. They speak to one another for a few verses, but then in verse 21, everything seems to change. The Bible says that Jesus looks at him and loves him. It is the love of God that leads Jesus to say to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell [all] you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Love had answered the cry of his heart and had simultaneously extended to him a very rare treasure: a personal invitation from Jesus to come follow Him. Only a few others had heard the words follow Me from Jesus, and they happily dropped everything in an instant to be with Him. But unlike them, this man was “sad at this word and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22). What’s wrong with this guy? His heart had asked the right question, brought him to the right place, and put him at the feet of the right Man. This was the treasure he had been seeking all along, and yet he turned his back on the treasure and walked away full of sorrow as if he had found nothing at all. It was as though an invisible set of scales was placed between Jesus and the rich man. Jesus loaded one side of the scale with not only the answer to his question but also treasure in heaven and a place in the plan of God. He brought the man face-to-face with his calling and gave his life purpose. In response, the man loaded his side of the scale with all of his material possessions, which, to him, outweighed Jesus’ invitation.
Puzzled by what had just gone down, Peter says to Jesus, “We have left all and followed You” (v. 28). It was as if to say, “How could anyone in their right mind pass on this offer?” And Jesus answers Peter and says,
“There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” (vv. 29-30).
In total contrast to this man’s example, think about the man Jesus talked about in Matthew 13:44. This man happens to find treasure hidden in a field. When he does, he quickly buries it again right where he finds it and, “For joy over it,” Jesus says, “he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” A field! How could a field possibly be worth everything the man owned? Friends and neighbors look at the field with its lone dying tree looming over a brownish patch of grass, and they whisper about the fool standing there with that stupid grin on his face. But while they’re looking at the field, he’s looking at the treasure that’s buried in it—a treasure that is worth all he has and so much more.
Jesus said that the treasure in the field is the kingdom of God.Both men had found the same treasure, but their responses couldn’t have been more different. One man was sad at the thought of not having the stuff he had amassed, while the other was overjoyed at the thought of getting rid of it all.
Jesus said that the treasure in the field is the kingdom of God.
We’ve seen two men who found the same treasure. One who sadly undervalued it and one who knew exactly what it was and what it was worth. As you think on this and conclude which of these you are, let me tell you about one more treasure seeker—one who has found gold and is, even now, in the process of learning to do the right thing with what he’s found. I’m referring to myself and treasure I’ve just found.
For years, my wife and I have sought land for our ministry. Our own “field” if you will. We’ve looked in some pretty spectacular locations with breathtaking views. We’ve also looked in the “cool part of town” with the hipster coffee shops and restaurants. More than once we almost settled on a place thinking we had found it. I thank God we didn’t. It was only by His grace that we had enough sense to not do something we didn’t have peace with. Before we found our property, we had to settle two things in our spirits. Number one: we needed to stop seeking land and start seeking God. Number two: we could not settle for a place that didn’t enable us to do what He has called us to do. Years ago, the Lord spoke to us and told us to begin taking steps toward a television ministry. In this small bit of direction, He had begun to reveal to us His plan for our lives and our place in the kingdom of God. Hearing the still, small voice and being confident that it was our Good Shepherd is more than biblical theory to me. It is treasure, and it’s worth all that I have and all that I am. Shortly after we made the decision that we wouldn’t settle on a place until we were confident that place could serve the assignment, we found ourselves standing in our very own field on a piece of land that would soon become our ministry home. I’ll be honest and tell you that it took more than a passing glance to recognize that this is a treasure. There is almost no view—certainly not one to boast about. The closest restaurants are not that close, and the building we bought is a big metal warehouse that gets layered with dust by the dozens of trucks that drive back and forth every day on our dirt and gravel road. And here is the proverbial kicker: it took nearly everything we had in the bank to buy it. If you were to come visit, you might look at the surroundings and start to wonder if our sanity were intact. While this property does not possess all the things we initially considered to be valuable, what it does have is a fully functioning television studio and a building that enables us to do all that God has called us to do. Those other amenities weigh nothing to me in comparison to knowing and doing what God has created us to do. Today when I stand on that property, I don’t see metal buildings and a gravel driveway; I see a treasure that makes me a very very rich man.
A wealth greater than gold is waiting beneath the surface of your field. Seek it. Dig for it. Don’t stop until you find it.
Today, you are one of two people. You are either someone who is actively seeking this treasure, or you are someone who will one day, if you haven’t already, happen across it as you go about your life. Either way, God will make sure that you are at some point in your life brought eye-to-eye with His purpose for you. Again, the plan of God may not come to you in an old treasure chest filled with silver and gold, but, rest assured, it will come. When it does, will you have eyes to see its beauty and worth? It’s easy to attribute value to something when the sum of its worth can be seen in its appearance. But it takes a different set of eyes to recognize the value in the kingdom of God. It takes seeing what He sees, and it takes seeing it the way He sees it.
I can tell you with confidence that one day there will be a kingdom opportunity placed in front of you and me that will require every dollar and dime we’ve got. I pray that we don’t foolishly allow this opportunity to pass us by thinking that what little money we have could somehow outweigh being used by God to impact the world. Personally, I hope my opportunity comes sooner than later because I am confident that what I give for Jesus’ sake and the Gospel’s is coming back to me a hundredfold. You can be confident of the same.
A wealth greater than gold is waiting beneath the surface of your field. Seek it. Dig for it. Don’t stop until you find it. God’s plan and purpose for you is a buried treasure—one hidden for you, not from you.