Digging for Gold
Embracing the Life of a Spiritual Archeologist
Author: Stephanie Bennett
The first April sun warm enough to beckon us down to the
As I soaked in the seagull sounds and the wordless message of the crashing waves, distant voices of small children came within my range of hearing. With eyes still closed, I smiled, calling to mind the gentle memories of similar days shared with my brothers and sisters on
As the two scouted diligently for treasures amidst the sand, I wondered about the passion that children possess. It's a passion that makes the absolute most out of every moment, a life that bubbles with joy in the discovery of the simple wonders of the universe. The fact is, in their most natural state, children maximize each moment, delighting to discover things hidden. They are explorers at heart, searching, digging for treasures unknown, and thrilling at their finds both great and small.
Have you ever wondered where that kind of motivation goes once we become adults? Why does the sense of wonder dissipate? When is it that we decide we have learned enough and close ourselves to being lifetime learners? What forces crush this God-given drive to go beyond the surface and search with fervor for treasures unseen? Oh to be archeologists, of the spiritual sort; that is -- unearthing the gems that are promised to us in Christ, mining for the gold that cannot tarnish or rust, digging with urgency at the side of God's holy mountain, excavating the land, learning to partake of the riches that are found in Him--- this is the life of the disciple of Christ.
But how, you might ask, how is this gold discovered? Simple desire and peripheral searching often results in our carrying around a big, old, empty bucket. In fact, that's one of the key reasons we keep from embarking on the search. The fear of discovering our own emptiness can be immobilizing. You may wonder then, how is it ever filled? Is there a special place or way that is helpful to discover the full measure of the riches of Christ? Ah, yes, my friend, there is a way, -- there truly is.
We are not destined for lives of alienation and randomness, but it will take desire and tenacity to stand against the sway of spiritual mediocrity. Apprehending all the riches that are ours in Christ does not involve a formula for success, nor is there a map to follow. It does, however, call for the union of two aspects of our faith walk with him, which are willingness and simplicity.
First, we must bring our "empty buckets" to the Lord and in a very decisional way, lay them down. This simple act of humility lays the foundation for intimacy with Christ. As we come to him, we begin to know him better. The more we fellowship with Christ, the more He reveals his heart to us. It is a revelation of our Lord that we need most! This "seeing Christ" through the eyes of the heart becomes more real as intimacy with him grows. As relationship with the Lord grows, it is so sweet and real that one might be tempted to retreat from the world forever and simply abide in that place of unspeakable grace. But God did not place each of us in this world to be isolated, and intimacy with him does not mean we should abandon life with each other. Oh no -- in fact, the opposite is true.
As we know him in increasing depth, it follows that we are drawn to others of like mind. My understanding of scripture and experience in Christ leads me to believe that the corporate expression of Christ is much greater than most Christians presently experience in the local churches, but this doesn't mean that what the Bible promises us is not accessible or knowable. Sometimes, we must make a dash for the door of our comfort zones, and break out of our religious traditions to meet with other "diggers," who long for intimacy with Christ and greater connection in meetings. Even if it is already our custom to meet in homes in small group gatherings, it often takes a long time to unearth the riches of Christ in each other, but it is possible. It takes digging, -- excavating, and diligent compassion to apprehend the treasures there.
Loving each other in a very practical, ongoing way is perhaps one of the more difficult things to experience in a local gathering of believers. It is so challenging that it takes a deep level of (personal) intimacy with the Lord to stand-fast and maintain relationship. Most people never get that far, that's why we generally don't experience this intimacy in the Bride during gathered meetings. Love is a process. When we gather to love Him together, it is a process of growth as well. But you already knew that, I'm sure.
It is quite easy to greet one another with a holy kiss, to speak of God's love, to teach of God's love, and to nurture the high calling of God's love deeply in our hearts. How difficult though, to really practice this love. This is precisely where "digging" is involved. Getting past the layers of artificiality and masks, both our own and those that others wear, can be daunting. It takes a commitment to get past the early, crusty layers of "earth" and go beyond what is clear, visible, natural. What it "does" take is looking to the heart of others through the eyes of the Spirit. My friend, none of us will ever experience intimacy in Christ in the Church unless we take this calling seriously. To walk in it takes great grace and humility. In fact, it takes more dedication and worship to our Lord to walk in this love than most anything else we do! Loving one another in purity and practice can be such a challenge that its lack often propels dear believers into isolation, causing some to give up on the church because we fail each other so much. The love necessary is a love that is gutsy and strong, ---much more than most of us have to offer. It is a muscular love -- sturdy, flexible, large-- one that exudes strength beyond the limitations of one's own abilities. The good news is that at the point of our own limitations God's strength continues. He has muscle enough to help us dig past the outer layers of self and sin. This need brings us to our knees, and in our emptiness and lack we must cry, "Lord, we are desperate for You!"
As we begin to see small signs of hidden treasure, we are motivated to continue in "the dig," to discover all that lies below the surface, and this almost always involves others.
In fact, one cannot approach the subject of intimacy with Christ without considering the importance of the Church. The gathering of believers is a major part of God's great and eternal purpose, and very much a part of the riches that are ours in Christ. Though the fullest expression and beauty of "the Bride" will ultimately be known when our experience on this Earth draws to a close and the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place, the brotherly/sisterly love for each other is not merely the promise of one bright future day. True, it is only then that the Church will be revealed in all of her splendor, and the experiences we will have had on the Earth in our gatherings will appear as mere inklings of intimacy when compared with the feast and richness of His majesty and glory that we are able to experience on that day. However, today -- this day -- there is much more to apprehend.
When we stop searching for that one fine moment, that one exquisite "find" we resign ourselves to a life of existence and boredom. Yet, God's goodness -- his entire Kingdom -- holds so much more!!! So once again, I adjure you --- in order to apprehend these riches, we must dig past the outer layers of faith and lay hold of Christ, in his fullness. This is the work of a spiritual archeologist, but it is impossible to accomplish if we do not embark on it with the faith of a little child, a faith that simply says, "Yes, Daddy. I trust you to show me." This faith is not that of ignorance or immaturity. It is the faith of one that is willing to dig, hungry to discover, ready to learn, someone who is not closed off to the simple pleasure and joy of discovery. This is the faith of one who knows that they do not know.
And so, as our searching for a deeper walk with Christ reveals inklings of divine reality, the process much resembles the way artifacts and inscriptions of lost civilizations are discovered on the walls of caves and uncovered in the ruins of past cultures. The archeologist presses forward in faith to unearth the fullness of the discovery, and so we must too, press past the dark caverns of our soul that seemingly lead nowhere. We must remember that the journey is an inward one and only possible as we walk in faith, trusting that the signs along the way point to a depth that is nothing less than our inheritance in Christ. It is rich inheritance. It is full; it is laden with inexplicable grandeur; and it is ours to discover as we place our heart in the safety of His strong,