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Lessons from a Metal Detector

Late one afternoon when the heat of our home had nearly turned us all into scary monsters, I loaded up my sweaty crew for some sanity by the shore. The salt water breeze and a mostly empty beach were just what we needed. While we were playing and building, an older woman approached on the horizon with her metal detector. My boys watched her serious approach to her searching task and one even stifled giggles, doing externally what I was doing internally.

With the seriousness of a judge, she combed every square foot around us. She had a sifter in one hand, ready to scoop up any rare finds. In the short time that we watched her treasure hunt, she had found two beat up Hot Wheels, long left behind by tired toddlers.

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I know that Christ is the treasure, the one worth selling all (Matthew 13:44). He is multi-faceted and infinitely more valuable than any diamond; the human heart was wired to treasure and to treasure God first and foremost.

However, while I know this cerebrally, I often live like one who holds the Cross in one hand and a metal detector in another, combing the surfaces of this globe and the mountainous terrain of relationships looking for a few more treasures. After all, even those who are truly His children struggle with trivializing and trading our treasure.

Trading Our Treasure

Through Jeremiah as His prophetic mouthpiece, the Lord spoke a harsh indictment of His people, Israel, who were notorious treasure traders.

Has a nation changed its gods even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked and very desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2: 11-13.

Before Christ, God’s people turned away from His promises, His premises and His presence, ignorantly convinced that they would find life outside of Him. On the other side of the Cross, we struggle with the same treacherous tendencies.

While we don’t outright trade our salvation (for those who are in Christ are in Him forever), we trade our practical experience of that salvation and all its accoutrements for dirty puddles. Like my children that night at the beach, we dig holes, run with our buckets to fill them and then repeat the process ad nauseam when the water dissipates out.  We reject life as broad and vast and wild as the ocean and prefer our own little hewn out holes and wonder why we are tired from our filling relay.

Trivializing Our Treasure

When I am not attempting terrible trades, I find myself falling into the trap of trivializing Christ, my greatest treasure. Rather than letting Christ and His Cross have both center stage and full directing powers, I relegate them to the ensemble and allow them to share the stage with two-bit treasures that don’t and cannot last. Instead of treasuring Christ alone and tracing back to Him and from Him all the other treasures and gifts that emanate from Him (my husband, my children, my home, my job, my hobbies), I tend to magnify the lesser treasures and minimize the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17).

When I do this, I must look as ridiculous as the metal detector lady looked to me that day. Walking on a beach made of million upon million pieces of sand with majestic waves lapping on her toes, with her head down looking for a treasure, while a far better treasure was all around her, underneath her.

Thankfully, Christ, our Treasure,  is as infinitely patient with His children as He is infinitely jealous to be rightly treasured. When life wears us down, when our trinkets don’t satisfy and the shiny falls off our lesser treasures, when our eyes grow weary from searching through sand, our truest treasure awaits us.

2 Comments

  1. Susan Rowley

    This was such a well timed reminder that Christ is my greatest joy. Some days I surprise myself as to what I think would satisfy instead !

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