“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid;
then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
– Jesus, Matthew 13:44
On the Greek island of Milos in 1820, a man named Yorgos unearthed several carved stone blocks while digging in his field. Excavating deeper, he found several statues, including one of Aphrodite, an ancient goddess of love. Three weeks later, an archaeological expedition purchased the Aphrodite, taking it to France. King Louis XVIII dubbed her Venus de Milo and presented her to the Louvre Museum, where she is now on display as one of the most famous artworks in history.
In 1961, Hollywood librarian Barbara Test inherited six steamer trunks from her grandfather, James Gluck, who had died in 1895. For thirty years, she deliberately sifted through the trunks, until in 1990 she discovered what turned out to be the first half of Mark Twain’s original manuscript for Huckleberry Finn. Eventually, it was reunited with its other half at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in New York.
For years, a 27 inch black rock in the basement of God’s House Tower Archaeology Museum in Southampton, England, served as a place for employees to lean their bikes. Two visiting Egyptologists in 2001 identified the “bike rack” as a 7th century BC Egyptian statue portraying a Kushite monarch. The curator of archaeological collections, Karen Wordley, acknowledged it was a “mystery” how the sculpture wound up in the basement.
A farmer’s field. A trunk in an attic. A museum basement. Each turned out to be hiding a whole lot more than meets the eye. Each place had a valuable treasure buried, concealed, or hiding in plain sight. While stories such as these will occasionally make how-cool-is-this headlines, I’m even more fascinated by the existence of the remarkable phenomena that exist around us in the universe of God’s creation, everything from sub-atomic particles to vast black holes, from the incredible diversity of flora and fauna to the infinite variabilities found in each human being.
So here’s my invitation. Perhaps that dirt trail is just a dirt trail to nowhere. Perhaps that student in your class is just an average student. Perhaps that oak tree is just a garden-variety oak tree. Perhaps that Bible verse is just a familiar verse. But take a closer look. Engage more deeply. Linger a little longer. Because the God of our universe delights in embedding the wondrous within the seemingly ordinary.