On July 5, 2009, an English farmer heard a knock on the door and found an adventurer on his doorstep. This man, whose name was Terry Herbert wasn’t an adventurer in the usual sense of the word. He hadn’t climbed any snow-clad peaks or ridden down the Amazon River or hiked across the Sahara Desert or accomplished anything of that ilk. In fact, he spent most of his time puttering around in an everyday field in the English countryside, staring at the ground while gently swinging a metal detector. But he was still set on making a grand discovery and the farmer’s field was a part of his plans. He wanted to scour the field with his metal detector to see if he could pinpoint any valuable relics from England’s past. The farmer shrugged nonchalantly and gave him permission, adding as he walked away, that he might as well keep an eye out for the wrench he had lost out in the field a few months earlier. Immediately Terry Herbert went to work with his metal detector, slowly as many square feet of the large field as he could. Finally, the same old beeping began to climb into a crescendo and he dropped to his knees to see if he could uncover this mystery object. When he saw the gleam of gold, he realized that this find was much more than just a modest piece of ancient farming equipment, this was a treasure trove! Sure enough, he had discovered the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered. It turned out to be the costly belongings of a warrior who had looted them from one of his enemies and then buried them for safe keeping back in the 8th century. Whether this was the case or not, whoever had buried them was soon forgotten and he or she never was able to enjoy the treasures again. But the field, which had looked boring and commonplace before, suddenly became an exciting treasure trove. Many more excavations of the field by a team of professional archaeologists yielded no more treasures, but the find was still worth over $5 million.
This story reminds me of a simple truth about life—the surface doesn’t always give us the true story. It’s like the old adage, “You can tell a book by its cover.” Amazing, precious things can lie just below the surface, out of sight from the casual observer. And that brings to mind a lesson about befriending God. Just as a friendship with another person takes time and effort a friendship with God also takes time and effort. And one good way to deepen a friendship is by listening. Paying attention to another person as they’re describing their experience is a big part of connecting with them. And we can connect with God that way by digging into the Bible. It’s not just about skimming a few chapters during breakfast. It involves listening carefully and thoughtfully to what the text is trying to convey just as you hang carefully on each word in an important message from a friend.