Check Your Backyard

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

In the late nineteenth century South Africa was in the grip of diamond fever. Prospectors poured into the country in search of the surface diamonds which were reported to be in the Vaal/Orange area. Before long alluvial diamond diggings sprang up along the Vaal River. Other diamonds were discovered in the ‘yellow ground’ near present day Barkly West and in 1870 a massive find opened up when diamonds were discovered on the De Beers brother’s farm, Vooruitzicht. It was the richest find to date, an entire hill, later named Colesberg Kopje, which turned out to be a kimberlite pipe. Before long, the hill was shovelled away and a huge hole took its place. By this stage the country was in a frenzy. Small bands of adventurers scoured the countryside for diamonds, and many people, gripped by the fever, left their regular vocations and joined the search.

One of the people who became a prospector was a farmer from the northern part of the country. Since the discovery of diamonds the possibility of striking it rich had kept him awake at night and turned his menial tasks to drudgery. Sick to death with tilling the fields and feeding the livestock, he had become consumed with thoughts of hooking up with the fortune seekers who occasionally stopped in at his farm. Thus, when a complete stranger offered to buy the farm, the farmer shook hands on the deal and left to pursue his dream.

His search was long and painful. He trekked for miles across the veld, climbed mountain ranges, and scoured the thorn bush. But the elusive diamonds were never found. Weeks turned to months, and months to years. Finally, penniless, depressed and sick, he committed suicide by throwing himself into a flooded river.

Back at the farm the new owner carefully tilled the land. One day, as he was planting some mielies (corn), he came across a strange looking stone which he took back to the farmhouse and placed on the mantel. That night, a friend noticed the stone, and after a careful examination turned to the new owner of the farm and exclaimed, “Do you know what you have here? This could be one of the largest diamonds ever found.”

Further investigation proved him right. Before long it was discovered that the entire farm was literally covered with diamonds and the farm sold by the first farmer turned out to be one of the richest, most productive mines in the world, the Premier Mine near present day Pretoria.

Captured in this story is a reminder of how we often fail to recognise the wealth in our own backyard. Like the farmer who sold the farm in order to rush off in search of his fortune, too few of us take the time to investigate and pay attention to what we already have. We convince ourselves that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and then in our endeavours to get ahead, we end up missing the fabulous riches within our grasp.

So travel along the way and learn to look for riches in your own backyard:

Recognise your marriage partner as the most precious of gems – “He who finds a wife finds what is goodProverbs 18:22.

Realise that relationships are far more valuable than what’s in a bank vault – “Two are better than one . . . if one falls down, his friend can help him up” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Appreciate children as glittering diamonds in the field of life “Children’s children are a crown to the agedProverbs 17:6.

See the family of God as a sparkling array of jewels for Jesus – “The house of the righteous contains great treasure” Proverbs 15:6.

Learn that climbing the corporate ladder can’t compare with the treasure chest of a house built according to God’s plan – “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” Proverbs 24:3.

And finally, look in the mirror, see yourself as God sees you; a matchless ruby in His imperial crown – “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Deuteronomy 7:6

Yes, we should make sure we don’t miss out. We should take time to turn over the stones we encounter along the way. For there are countless diamonds to be found in our own backyard.

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