Hidden Treasure; the Joy of Treasuring God
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44
In 2005, I came across the story below while reading “A Call to Die” written by David Nassar. It tells of a treasure seeker named Mel Fisher who, back in 1985, found the lost treasure of the shipwrecked Nuestra Senora De Atocha off the coast of the Florida Keys. The story illustrates a great truth to help us understand Jesus’ parable about the hidden treasure.
“On July 20th, 1985, Mel Fisher leaned over the side of the salvage boat off the Florida Keys. As he had done thousands of times before, he watched the bubbles from the scuba tanks and waited for some god news. For seventeen years, Fisher had looked for the wreck of the Nuestra Senora De Atocha, a Spanish galleon that sank in a hurricane in 1622. For years, divers found many other wrecks, but none would compare to the Atocha. Ancient documents in the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain, said that this ship carried enormous quantities of gold, silver, and jewels from Havana to Spain. The man who found it would be rich beyond his wildest imagination. Everybody in Key West knew Fisher had looked for the Atocha day after day and year after year, and many of them laughed at his inept efforts. Then on July 20, 1975, Fisher’s son Dirk found a bronze cannon from the Atocha. Surely riches were just around the corner. But instead of riches, Fisher only found heartache when Dirk, his wife, and another diver were killed a week later when their boat capsized. Fisher buried them but kept up the search. In the next few years, Fisher found a few coins, a few gold platters, and a few emeralds…just enough to keep investors interested. But they failed to find the main compartment of treasure. On that afternoon in 1985, (exactly ten years to the day of the death of His son and daughter-in-law) Fisher tried a new salvage technique. He rigged up his engines to blow water through a tube to hose off the sea floor. It stirred up an immense quantity of sand in the water. After it settled, he sent his divers down for a look. Fisher stood at the side watching. After only a few minutes, a diver surfaced, ripped off his mask and yelled, “It’s here! We’ve found the main pile!” Imagine being that diver as he swam down through the settling sand and suddenly gazed on a stack of gold and silver bars eight feet wide, five feet high, and twenty feet long! It contained over 7000 ounces of gold, 1000 silver bars, and 530,000 doubloons. Gold necklaces, platters, and candelabras, littered the ocean bottom. The divers scooped up double-handfuls of huge emeralds. On the first day, the divers brought up so much treasure that the salvage boat almost sank! It took a 70 man crew and two and a half years to recover it all. The haul was valued at 400 million dollars. Mel fisher had quite a treasure, but he had given up practically everything to get it: his reputation, his comfort, the lives of his family. But the value of the treasure was worth more to him than anything in the world. Sadly, we know that Fisher’s treasure was only earthly, and many would say he still came out short. But you can’t deny his passion and commitment.”
Mel Fisher had given up everything in his quest to locate a hidden treasure on the ocean floor. Likewise, the man in Jesus’ parable gave up everything to obtain the treasure he had found in the field. He valued the treasure so much that he was willing to forsake everything else. Nothing else mattered except obtaining the treasure. And the best part of the parable was the joy the man felt in his heart.
A parable has been defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The heavenly meaning within this particular parable is that a relationship with God is a treasure to be sought after. It is the most important thing in life. And as one pursues this intimacy with God, anything that might get in the way must be forsaken. Ponder this parable, and rest in the joy you have found in your treasured relationship with God!
– Pastor Eric