As we were chatting about our lives the other day, a friend told me that God had been encouraging her to “dig for the gold”. As I thought about what this meant at a deeper level - it challenged me too - several thoughts came to mind.
One of them was from her comment:
“Sometimes you’ve got to look past an awful lot of dirt”.
I am painfully aware at times of my proclivity toward seeing dirt. And I don’t think I am alone here, either! It is so easy to see what is wrong with others, what is wrong with circumstances, what is wrong in our relationships and lives. And we can tend to think that, “If only there was not SO MUCH dirt, it would be so much easier to focus on that gold”.
And of course, gold has that intrinsic worth and value. It seems so desirable - not just for its beauty, but for what it can do for us, the doors it might open.
Many years ago, back in the very early 80’s when it was a bit of a craze, my dad hired a metal detector and took my brothers and me out around Castlemaine, to an area covered in old gold mines. It was to be a bit of fun on a Saturday, not to mention the need to get five kids out of the house so my mother could sleep after her night duty as a nurse.
It was not nice bushland particularly, being dry, rocky and scrubby. There was nowhere to rest or just enjoy the view, no amenities. And of course, only one person could use the detector at a time. The others spent time deciding on where would be a good place to look, where we would find the illusive gold.
Although in many ways I found this quite a boring day, one thing kept us going – the hope that we would strike gold. Not because we wanted to be rich or were thinking of all we could do with the money from gold (well, ok, maybe there was a little of that), but because that was our goal. We were there to find gold and that was the unspoken promise from the machine: this will help you find gold!
But why is gold so valuable? Why is it a commodity that so much else is traded on? I always remember the verse (from the Larry Norman song, “I wish we’d all been ready”) about a loaf of bread being able to buy a bag of gold in the end times, at a time when food, when basic necessities would be so scarce that they would more valuable than “riches”.
As I sit here typing, I am looking out across a beautiful bay, with the wind chasing alternate rain and sunshine across my view. Rainbows come and go in amongst them, a sight that often brings to mind the fabled “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow. But a rainbow is also a promise.
Like the symbol of the rainbow – the promise of gold, the promise of hope - perhaps life is very much about continuing the chase for that gold. But, if we only ever see all the dirt (and there is an awful lot of dirt), if we keep focussing on just how much dirt there is, we do lose faith; we lose the hope for something different, for something precious to come out of that dirt.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul shares about how we “face death all day long”, and the idea that this is opportunity for the life of Christ to be shown in us. He goes on to say (v17, 18),
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
What is in your life at the moment where God is calling you to look past the dirt to find the gold, to even hope for the gold? Is it a work stiuation, or a relationship – that person who is frustrating you or just unhelpful; maybe it is another circumstance where all you can see is the rain and wind and what is not.
Maybe He is calling you to see that this is the place where rainbows - with all their promise and hope – dwell.
We each have a choice, moment by moment, through our lives: will I choose to focus on the problem, on what is not? Or will I choose to hold on to hope for the gold that God has promised and just keeping digging?