Kids love scavenger hunts.
Or rather, the thought of them.
It’s a curious thing really, the excitement they seem to have when the search is announced. The eyes that twinkle just thinking of the treasure that is waiting to be found. I chuckle to myself remembering the times I’ve put together these “hunts” and the time I took planning them. How I carefully wrote out each clue that cleverly rhymed on a homemade piece of antique looking paper. Or the money I spent putting together a prize for the end. Little did I know that such hunts require a certain level of maturity.
Imagine my surprise when after all that work, the joy was so short-lived! Five minutes later, the tears would come because the clues weren’t easy enough. Each hint required time and thought to find the next one. This was supposed to be a part of the fun, but I found out rather quickly that my kids hadn’t been expecting to put any effort into it. They were so eager for the prize that they wanted me to just show them the next place to look!
They had been expecting an instant treat and this was taking too long.
People value the things they work for.
This is why the child who has been handed everything for free, often takes it for granted.
My husband paid his own way through college and could often tell who was paying for their own education simply by how hard they worked in class. He witnessed many young adults squandering their chance at a degree, simply because they didn’t have to pay for it. Many would be wasting valuable class time playing games on their laptop as the professor spoke! On the flip side, he noted that the students who really wanted to be there and had paid for it themselves realized the worth of it and tried their very best.
A few years back, I observed this very principle in my children. My oldest son found it fun to smash into things with his bike. He also loved to drift his bike by slamming on the brakes while he was speeding down the driveway. This wore down the brakes and the tires. Despite our many reminders, he often left his bike out on the driveway or in the rain and rarely remembered to lock it up when he rode it to school.
One day, after almost hitting his bike while backing out of the garage, I told him that if this bike would break before he out grew it, he would be buying his own.
The very next day, he left it on the driveway and my husband drove over it. Oh, the tears that came! We heard all his complaints: “It was just not fair. It was all Dad’s fault! He would never make enough money in his life to buy another one!”
I remember questioning myself, wondering if I was perhaps being a bit too hard on the boy. After all, he was only ten!
It was difficult lesson for sure, but what happened next was worth the struggle. My son started saving up for his new bike. He asked for jobs around the house. He asked to mow the lawn. He worked hard in the garden, ever so slowly saving his money, and by the end of summer he had enough! He proudly bought his very own bike.
The best part? Never once did I have to remind him to lock it up, or put it back in its place in the shed. He had learnt to care for his bike because he now realised the value of it.
A treasure worth searching for?
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5
As I think back to the many scavenger hunts and the lessons I’ve learned about hard work bringing value to the things I receive in life, I wonder if this is partly the key to some of our struggles with dry devotions. We so often try to fit God into a five-minute timeslot through reading a devotional written by someone else who took the time and effort to look for us! We want the quick, no-work-needed benefit of a “verse of the day” or a “one-minute devo” but we never take the time to actually seek out God and his wisdom for ourselves.
We want to be handed an instantaneous word on a platter – and then we are disappointed when it doesn’t touch us in the way we thought it would! But Jesus never promised us a path of minimal effort, instead he spoke plainly:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
As I think about this, I smile, for in his wisdom, God didn’t just hand us these treasures. He knew that the only way we would learn to truly value his wisdom was if we had to search for it. And indeed, the most precious moments I’ve had in God’s word are when I’ve spent time calling out to him and searching desperatelyfor his wisdom. Those moments where I needed to hear from God and no ‘second-hand’ word would do!
I needed the source!
Oh, the JOY that’s mine when it happens! God speaks and reveals his word to my heart, a word that is meant just for me in that moment.
Nothing can replace that joy.
No quick verse or devotional can compare with a personal word, given straight from the source. My friends, this is a treasure worth searching for!
Are we willing to put in the effort?
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46