There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!
by Sharon Betters
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Mark Twain’s books Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn captured my imagination during the hot summers of growing up in Middletown, Delaware. Though I haven’t read them in years it doesn’t take long to pull back the memory of Tom Sawyer’s fake funeral or the exciting adventures of Tom and Huck along the Mississippi River. Mark Twain introduced readers to another character, Colonel Mulberry Sellers who is known for his declaration, “There’s gold in them thar hills!”
Some think California gold rush miners inspired Mark Twain with this character when they told him about Dr. M. F. Stephenson, a geology and mineral expert who served as an assayer in Georgia in the 1840s. While many thought the Georgia gold rush had run its course and California was the land where gold was just waiting to be picked up off the ground, Stephenson strongly disagreed, exclaiming, “Why go to California? In that ridge lies more gold than man ever dreamt of. There’s millions in it.”
Mark Twain’s creative juices transformed Stephenson’s statement into: “There’s gold in them thar hills” and “There’s millions in it.”
I don’t know if Stephenson was correct. Thousands of minors ignored him and rushed to California to find their millions.
How many of us are like those miners? Similar to Stephenson exhorting the miners to realize the gold they were seeking was right in front of them, Paul exhorts us to recognize that there are riches in the word of Christ.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing
one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16 ESV
Stephenson might have been wrong, but God’s Word is truth. When we’re tempted to look in other places for wisdom, peace, equipping for life’s challenges, Paul reminds us that we need to choose to allow the Word to “take up residence” in our hearts (dwell richly). Taking up residence is more than simply living in a house. We make a mistake when we cross reading the Bible off of our to-do-list, without taking the time to think through the message and how it can transform our thoughts and actions. When the Word of Christ takes up residence, lives within us, His wisdom teaches us how to encourage one another, how to respond to the hard places in life with songs of praise and thankfulness in our hearts.
“There’s gold in them thar pages! Millions of riches to be experienced.” Choose to get to know the riches of Christ, who lives in your heart. This week we will get a glimpse into how God’s Word can direct our relationships to others and the power of community.
We become God’s promise keepers as He sends us to come alongside another person in their life journey. As Jesus prepared for the crucifixion He had an incredibly personal conversation with God. In that prayer (see John 17) He asks that those who are His (included us) will be one. Why would this be the request of our Savior shortly before He leaves the earth? My conclusion is Jesus wants us to experience the priceless gift of community, knowing it is a means of grace that will help us grow deeper in love with Him and walk by faith. God gives us “means of grace,” that is, He doesn’t throw us into life as Christians without also giving us a means of knowing Him and how to reflect His love to others. The Word is our road map and along with the covenant community, God helps us better understand how to live out His Word in our own villages.
Treasured by Him,
Read Psalm 19 and write in your journal the words describing Scripture. As you listen to your pastor’s sermon, note specific ways God encourages you through the preaching of His Word.
Read Treasures of Encouragement, Chapter 5
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