I found my boys with shovels in the middle of the yard the other day. The older of them had free-handed a map and placed a large X at the end of the arrow route he had drawn. "We are digging for buried treasure!" he announced to me.
I paused to consider the amount of faith, or maybe just imagination, required to draw your own map to a spot in the yard where you haven't buried any treasure and to begin digging there without hesitation. I asked the boys to stop for lunch, buying me some time to consider how to convince them not to dig a hole right in the middle of the yard without totally destroying their play.
After lunch, I sent them back out. "Hey boys..." I asked, "do you think there's any way you could dig for buried treasure somewhere where there is already dirt instead of grass? Like maybe under the pine trees... or where the playhouse used to be?" "Well," Titus replied, "this is where my map says to dig..." Then upon re-consideration, he added, "but... I guess if I would start in a different part of the yard and go this way, and then go this way..." He gestured around with his hands in the general pattern of the route sketched on his map. "I guess maybe the buried treasure is actually over here. Maybe I was wrong!" In a rare moment of cheerful compliance, he put his shovel in the back of the Gator and hopped on. "C'mon Elijah!" He put the Gator into gear and they set off in pursuit of the correct starting point, hopefully leading to a better place to dig.
Awhile later, Titus called for me. "So!! We found the buried treasure!!! But it wasn't really what we were expecting to find." I went out to see what they had found because I was certainly curious. "They were roots!!!" It goes without saying that if you dig most places in our yard you'll happen upon some roots, and this was no particular surprise to find these right next to the windbreak. But to have found something, anything, in their pursuit of buried treasure was enough for them... even if it was not what they were expecting.
The knowledge and understanding of God is sometimes referred to in Scripture as buried treasure. And there were a lot of lessons about that I could learn through this object lesson my boys were creating before my eyes. As we read and interpret Scripture, it's true that in some ways, we're drawing our own treasure map. We're pulling together conclusions of how we understand what we're reading, and what we believe it's telling us, and we're following accordingly. There are times, though, when my interpretation is wrong. When God sends me back out after lunch and asks if I've possibly considered starting from a different point and digging somewhere else, am I open to that? Am I pliable enough to change the way I've been interpreting everything, and seek a better way?
I think in my own spiritual digging, if I'd found the right place and dug a hole and reached some roots, I would have simply been annoyed by their presence and the reality that the roots were preventing me from digging. Because they were not what I was picturing when I pictured "buried treasure", I think I would have clipped right on past them, with frustration that buried treasure couldn't be easier to get to. When my boys found roots, on the other hand, they saw them as the treasure. They were digging for something, and since this was what they found, this must be the treasure.
In my pursuit of holiness, I pray that I don't blaze right past the treasure that is sitting right in front of me. There's a song that's been echoing in my head by Matt Maher- "Lord, I Need You":
Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more // Where grace is found is where You are // And where You are, Lord I am free // Holiness is Christ in me
Even if the treasure is not what I'm expecting, and even if the process to get there is not what I thought... may I recognize the sufficiency of Christ and the completeness of the plan of God... and that treasure is treasure, whether it looks that way or not!