Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hidden Treasure

The other day there was an interesting story in our local newspaper. A retired jeweler named Barry Landis was sorting through items donated to Goodwill Industries in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Among the pile of costume jewelry, he spotted something unusual. It turned out to be 2.6-carat diamond and platinum ring. It has a two-carat European-cut diamond, surrounded by 14 smaller diamonds. The ring has been appraised at $17,600.

This was not a generous donation by an anonymous giver. Instead it is likely that someone was cleaning out a relative's old jewelry box and literally threw out a fortune. They still have no idea what they gave away.

There is a story from India about a poor man who goes to visit a wealthy friend. After being treated to a full meal, he falls asleep. The wealthy friend sews a priceless jewel into the lining of his sleeping friend's robe. When the poor man awakens, he continues on his journey, having no idea that he has been given a fortune.

The man lives his life in poverty, enduring great hardship and always in want. Years later he happens to meet his old friend again, who is shocked at his poverty and shows him the jewel in the robe. The man realizes for the first time that he has always possessed boundless riches but did not know it.

Jesus told stories of treasure. A tenant farmer was tilling a field when his plow unearthed a treasure that had been buried in the ground. He sells everything he has to buy that field and secure the treasure. Another man was a merchant, a lifelong seeker of beautiful pearls. One day he comes across a priceless pearl, and immediately recognizes its true value. He also sells everything that he has to buy that pearl.

A rich man came to Jesus one day. Jesus offered him the priceless gift of eternal life. He was required to do just one thing in exchange: sell everything that he had and give the proceeds to the poor. The man couldn't part with his riches, and "went away sorrowful."

The world is composed of different types of people. Some people never notice the treasure sewn into the fabric of their lives. Some are so blind they discard treasure, thinking it is a worthless trinket. Others find treasure buried under their feet when they weren't even looking for it, but they know it when they see it. Others are lifelong seekers; when they find their heart's true desire, they willingly give up everything to possess it. Then there are seekers who cannot bring themselves to accept the treasure when they find it; the price seems too high.

The Kingdom of God is right before our eyes. It is not enough just to have eyes to see it; we need the heart to enter the Kingdom. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Photo is of the 2.6-carat diamond ring that turned up at the Goodwill distribution center in Harrisburg, PA.

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