Through lots of hard manual labor, that field has produced crops for decades. While the type of crops and the yield have varied with the passage of time, the one constant is Work. Work to pick out the endless eruption of rocks that emerges after every winter. Work to break up the hard soil every spring. Work to water in the hot summer months. Work to fight back the constant invasion of insects, woodchucks, deer, and other pests. And if you sweat enough, get dirty enough, and get sunburned enough…you might get some reward at the end.
Well…yesterday that field produced something else besides crops. It produced a treasure.
Yesterday one of my sons went out into the garden with a metal detector. He put on ear muffs so he could block out other distractions and concentrate on the noises emitted by the instrument. In that listening place, he heard a faint beep. Getting down on all fours, he gently began digging through the soft soil, and soon unearthed a penny. But this was not your standard penny, this was an 1891 Indian head penny. It had lain there for decades, a hidden treasure just beneath the feet of countless farmers, Fairwood staff members, and sweaty Bible school students (myself among them). But we had all been too busy digging, planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting to notice. What we needed to do was stop. Block out other noises. Listen. Kneel. And sift the soil carefully. The treasure was only inches away, but we were too hard at work to find it.
(In case any of you are wondering how much the penny was worth, we had the same question. As soon as we got home we googled it, and found out that the “treasure” was actually only worth about $3.50. Still, it was an exciting find.)
Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven as a treasure hidden in a field. I believe the Sabbath is well described by that same metaphor. We stop the frenzy of work. We listen to a different Voice. We take time to sift the Word of God, or sift our own hearts, taking stock of where we are. In this silent place, we too find the treasure–a deep peace coming from the heart of God. It is a foretaste of the Eternal Peace we will one day enjoy with Him.
And the nice thing about the Sabbath treasure is that the more we practice it, the more valuable it gets. We learn new aspects of it, we find new practices that rejuvenate and delight our minds and bodies, and we experience the joy of sharing it with others. It might seem to be “worth” $3.50 when we begin keeping it as children, but the older we get the more we see that it is a treasure beyond price.
I would encourage each of you to do some treasure hunting this Sabbath. Life is moving at dizzying speed. and it is impossible to keep up. So let’s not try. Let’s put down the shovel, the hoe, and the watering can, and exchange them for silence and listening. As we do so, we too will find the treasure that is the Heart of God.
Listening with you,