Give Up Your Gold – Job 28
By Stacy Sharpe
As carpenter, James Marshall, inspected the water-powered sawmill he was building for a guy named John Sutter, he happened to spot some shiny flecks of metal in the river below that “made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold.”
Confirmation that there really was gold in them thar hills soon ushered a stampede of epic proportion to the Golden State. The only prescription for the ensuing gold fever proved getting a piece of the action. Throughout 1849, thousands of would-be miners across the nation borrowed money, mortgaged their property or spent their life savings to make the arduous journey to California and stake a claim.
In my home state, this lure of quick money which created an historical scramble for mineral wealth, is commonly referred to as The Gold Rush.
Momentarily forgetting his sorrows in chapter 28 (and sounding a lot like King Solomon), Job vividly recounts such earnest efforts to tap Creation for its priceless God-given resources:
“He (man) tunnels through the rock;
his eyes see all its treasures.
He searches the sources of the rivers
and brings hidden things to light.” (verses 10-11)
Job highlights the extreme measures man takes to seize Earth’s precious commodities as “he searches the farthest resources…far from men he dangles and sways” (verses 3-4). Indeed many people have sacrificed their very lives (or the lives of others) to get their hands around our planet’s hidden treasures. The environment bears scars of intrusive attempts to capture Earth’s hidden assets. World conflict continues to rage over man’s desperate dependence on natural resources like oil. I’m old enough to vaguely remember the 1973 Arab oil embargo, when Americans were all dressed up with nowhere to go, resentfully marooned at home by the extreme gas shortage.
Suffice to say, the human race expends endless energy to acquire worldly wealth. Yet somehow, money still fails to buy us world peace or lasting happiness.
Job proceeds to compare terrestrial treasures with something else of incalculable value; we cannot begin to comprehend its worth. Only “God understands the way to it and He alone knows where it dwells” (verse 23). We can’t see it—“it is hidden from the eyes of every living thing” (verse 21). King Solomon suggests that it brings us things like honor, longevity, patience, peace, pleasure, protection and riches…and it ultimately reigns supreme above everything we toil tirelessly to attain.
If we’re smart, we’ll prioritize getting it: wisdom.
The only rub remains that wisdom is often very hard won. Like mining for gold, we must proactively and sacrificially dig for it. Wisdom is traditionally acquired with blood, sweat and tears. And once discovered, our newfound eternal treasure is usually put to the test for authentication.
Because God alone holds the treasure map to wisdom, our hunt necessitates humility–all too often, not one of our best qualities. Perhaps that’s why Job suggests:
“the fear of the Lord—THAT is wisdom.” (verse 28, emphasis mine)
We earthlings simply don’t have all the answers, so it behooves us to submit to the One who does, lest we become obnoxiously “wise in our own eyes” (Proverbs 3:7).
I’m dealing with a situation right now that I fully realize cannot be won with my own wits (trust me, I’ve tried). I’m pleading with God to receive His Divine insight as I navigate complicated relationships and critical decisions about the future. Wisdom preserves my life (Ecclesiastes 7:12), and thankfully, “[God] is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it” (James 1:5).
Heavenly Father! Give us the desire to scrounge for something infinitely more valuable than gold. Let us search for treasures that don’t perish! May we shout, “I’ve found wisdom! Eureka—I’ve struck it rich!”
After a quarter century (willingly!) spent in the trenches of childrearing, Stacy suddenly discovers herself in a season of rediscovery. Having also worked the last seven years for Irvine Unified School District, she is now taking time to nurture neglected relationships, laundry loads, half-read books and unpursued dreams. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in English literature, she has entertained a life-long love affair with language, preeminently, God’s Divine written Word. Stacy, her husband, Steve, and their four adult children all actively live, work, worship and play in southern California. While awaiting honest inspiration, she blogs at “Searching for Sanity and Missing Socks.” StacySharpe.wordpress.com.