“God-conscious individuals are especially gifted at seeing the treasure buried in the people around them.” Graham Cooke

I saw this quote a couple days ago and cannot stop thinking about it. This quote is not only true, but extremely important for us to understand.  I had a vision a couple of months ago that continues to echo through my life almost daily. This quote reaffirmed the vision that God gave me during prayer and solidifies it’s significance in my life. Here is how I described it after it happened:

“The Cave”
I looked up and saw that I was standing at the mouth of a large cave on the edge of a cool, damp,  wooded forest. I felt a presence beside me, so I turned to look and saw that Jesus was standing right next to me. He was doing that thing where He smiles so wide that His eyes narrow, and you can see that He is up to something. We examine the cave’s entrance together… He doesn’t say anything; it’s clear to me that I should take some time to examine the environment that I’m in. It’s jagged, rocky, and honestly uninviting. I am a man who loves to go and explore nature and who lives for adventure; if I see a cave in the forest on a hike, I am going in to explore it and usually forget to think about the potential consequences. This cave was one that looked ominous, though. It was intimidating and almost seemed to exhale a toxic odor. He reached down and grabbed a large, sea-beaten rope that looked to have come from a fisherman’s boat. He tied it securely around my waist, tied a fancy knot, and stepped back with arms folded. I looked at the grinning and calm Jesus for direction, knowing what was coming… all He said was “Go, I’ve got you.” I felt no trepidation in that moment, no overwhelming fear as I took steps towards the cave’s opening. I entered in. Heavy, dank, darkness quickly consumed me. If not for the rope around my torso, I would have been aimless and lost… but I kept going forward. I began to feel disoriented as my hand grazed the wet, sharp walls of the cave and my feet stumbled over and slipped on it’s dangerous floor. I felt as if I was blind and filled with utter confusion. I must have traveled through this cave for miles. Then I saw it… a faint, dim light coming from the distance. A few more agonizing steps through narrow and winding cave and the light got brighter as I approached. It was stunning. A bright, glowing, precious gem the size of a watermelon sat atop a rocky pillar. I suddenly felt like Indiana Jones, or Aladdin and immediately understood why I have always identified so strongly with these characters. I heard a voice echo from a distance, a whisper that simply said, “Grab it.” I obeyed and reached out to seize the gem; it was bright, warm, and brilliant. Once in my possession, I was instantly yanked backwards through the frigid winding cavern by the rope around me, and found myself back at the entrance of the cave with Jesus. It took hours to venture and grasp through the darkness to get to the prize at the end, but only seconds to be brought out of the cave by Jesus’ pulling me back to Him. So there I stood, gasping hard for air as if I had just held my breath under water. Jesus gave me a moment to catch my breath and said, “This is what I want you to do. From now on, you get the gems.”

I have had a lot of time to process and think through this intense and significant vision/metaphor and have had a few important insights:

1. Don’t focus on the “cave”
It is really easy for even trained professionals to become focused on and distracted by the cave. What do I mean by that? The cave represents the people all around us. People can be jagged, sharp, uninviting, cold, and dank. If we allow ourselves to focus solely on the intimidating and negative characteristics about people, we will never take the journey “inward” to create relationship with these individuals and “retrieve the treasure.” I love how the New Living Translation puts Romans 2:4, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” We approach the cave with “kindness” instead of judgement and fear… that is how people experience God’s love. That is how people turn from the destructive patterns of their lives and break through pain/hurt.
It is also important to note that you must keep your focus on “getting the gold.” If you enter into a cave and stay there too long, without a correct focus, you can become disoriented, frustrated, angry, and end up dealing with the same darkness as the person you were trying to love on. Keep your focus on Jesus and the mission He is calling you to.

2. Every “cave” has treasure to be discovered
It can sometimes be difficult to see that “challenging” people in our lives have, within them, buried treasure…but it’s true! Don’t allow the enemy to convince you otherwise. If you struggle to find value, worth, gold, treasure (call it what you will) inside yourself, enter into relationship with people who have been “treasure hunting” for a while. Ask God to bring people into your life to “grab the gem” and show you what God has placed within you. You have to believe that there is treasure inside of you in order to help others find it within themselves. In fact, if you don’t find or believe that there are gems placed in you by God, and then try to help others find theirs, people will know. Humans have a very keen sense of authority and confidence and need to know that those who are helping them have that security. The authority, confidence and security I am talking about comes directly from the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:4). Seek Him to find the gold that He has hidden in you. We have been chosen to bring the light into the darkness, to reveal the hope in the hurt. Jesus working in us and through us is the “solution,” that is why He gives the command to “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This quote from Danny Silk’s book Culture of Honor summarizes this perfectly: “Jesus had the Love thing down, but the Pharisees didn’t have a clue. So, in the presence of sin, the Pharisees were afraid, but when Jesus was in the presence of sin, He was the solution, the remedy. He was powerful.”

3. Stay connected to Jesus
This is the most important point. Psalm 16:8 says, “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Remember that you are tied to Him. He has chosen you to go into caves and to seek out the gifts, talents, strengths, and beauty inside of those around you. He won’t let go of you, or cut the rope. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” He is faithful. When we find that we are lost in the cave, or have lost our bearings, it is because we forgot that He is in control. Without Him, we could be forever lost in the darkness and confusion of our cave or those around us. Engage with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis! This is like “tugging the rope” to remind you that He is still connected to you, and that you are still connected to Him.

I really feel like this vision revealed my personal mission, but I also think that it is the assignment of all of us… the command of all of us… to engage in treasure hunting and helping people to understand their value and worth. “May you be filled with Joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you (made you worthy) to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light” Colossians 1:11b-12.