The Search

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By Melissa McLaughlin

A Backyard Search

Recently my husband was inspired to rummage through our garage and dust off his old metal detector, a hobby he enjoyed just for kicks when we were younger and time was not so scarce. I could never seem to reach deep enough within to stir up the passion that is needed for this pastime of patient perseverance. Reminiscent of fishing, which my husband also enjoys despite my chronic yawning!

There we were one afternoon breathing in the fresh summer air. The sun gently warming us. The crickets chirping their seasonal greeting. I was enjoying the sights and sounds in this moment of slowed backyard sweetness. My husband, metal detector in hand, began his search gently sweeping his arm across the green grass, moving with quiet determination.

A sunken treasure ship, yet to be explored. An untouched continent, waiting to be discovered. Secrets of the earth, ready to be revealed. To him, these thoughts of the great unknown made it worth the effort. A gladsome effort, no less.

“What do you hope to find?” I wondered aloud as I watched from a shaded lawn chair nearby.

“Whatever there may be hidden from our view. Who knows? That’s precisely the joy of it,” he responded with calm confidence, his pursuit undeterred by my doubtful questions. Ten minutes drifted by, then thirty minutes, then an hour. He continued his graceful quest. Sweeping, pausing, considering.

Soon one area deemed closer inspection. My curiosity was piqued. He set aside his detector, gripped a hand spade and began to dig. He cut through a small area of ground and lifted up the hard-packed soil. As he sorted through, he had to shake the clumpy chunks of dirt and separate out the roots and earthy debris. The first item he found was a small child’s ring. We laughed together as we remembered this very ring, given as a party favor at our daughter’s birthday party some 15 years ago. He rubbed away the dirt and together we smiled at the memory of our three children’s golden days…flitting through the backyard, creating worlds in the sandbox, setting free the dandelion seeds with a puff of joy. What precious memories, hidden from view until the ring was brought forth.

God's treasure search for us

My husband returned to the metal detector and I held the dirt-smudged little ring in my hand. The pursuit continued. Sweeping, pausing, considering. It wasn’t long before he stopped again. Once more, he laid aside his equipment, pulled out the spade and commenced with the dig. This time his hard work yielded a crumpled Coke can.

“What in the world?” we laughed. We could not imagine how this little unwanted treasure ended up here! Still he cleaned off the dirt to prepare for a toss in the recycling bin later.

In the next round, he dug up several coins which were quickly added it to his now growing collection.

“We’re rich,” he shouted! “Twenty-one cents richer, that is.” We joked about whether to add that to our savings account or split a drink at the Dollar Store, subsidized by our own wallets, of course!

By the end of his excursion into the great unknown in the underground worlds of our backyard, he discovered a few rusty nails. As I watched him work, I remembered all of the times he used hammer, nails, saw and countless other tools to make repairs on our home. Using all of his strength, all of his heart, all of himself to take care of our home and family. My heart swelled at the thought.

“Time to quit,” he announced contentedly.

“Great day of discoveries,” I concluded.

After all was said and done, I was taken by the simple pleasures of my husband’s hobby of metal detecting. Though he did not find riches that made us financially wealthy, the work of his hands filled my heart’s treasury with memories of love and wonder and gratitude for my children, my husband and the ways God has provided for us.

God’s Search For Us

Much like the work of metal detecting, I see how God is relentlessly pursuing the buried treasures in our hearts. Sweeping over us with His songs, wooing us with His Word of love, and freeing us with His truth. Pausing and considering every little part of us. Digging up the hardened places where cherished beauty lies hidden. Brushing off the dirt of our long-forgotten faith, helping us marvel at Him again with childlike trust. Removing old junk no longer helpful. Restoring memories of what He has done before with His own hands and a few nails.

Searching, digging, revealing. Redeeming what was lost. Celebrating what is found. This work is more, much more than a Father’s hobby. Thank you, God, for detecting me.

Luke 19:10 NIV – For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.

God's treasure search for us

Photos ©Melissa McLaughlin

Additional Resources

“I Spy” – Where do you spy God? By Melissa McLaughlin

Can I Really Know God? By Melissa McLaughlin

Metal Detector Finds

Treasure Finds

52 thoughts on “The Search”

  1. So glad I dug through my email to unearth this treasure. May I be just as successful with the detector. But, we already have our treasure and may God keep our hearts buried in it

  2. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful words Melissa! I’ve often watched the “treasure hunters” on our beach vacations and wondered about what they found. What strikes me after reading your post is the treasure found not only in the ground, but also in the time together, sharing the wonder of the quest, and the mutual patience unearthed. Thx for sharing!

    • Thank you for visiting and sharing in the memory. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement! I think it takes someone with a certain combination of curiosity, explorer thinking and lots of patience for the long haul. Thank God He is so patient with me! God bless you!

  3. Dear sister, you described so well the way Our Lord detects. “Sweeping over us … freeing us with His truth”. Thank you as I sense He is digging in me. Pulling up old roots I hope. Thank you again for connecting with me. Congratulations too on your book! I just learned that tonight.

  4. This is absolutely great! Thanks I’m wanting to add this to my post picks I’ll be putting out here soon. I save posts i really enjoy and share them in a post. Is that ok with you?

    • Dear Amy, how kind of you! I am honored that you would save this and consider using it for a post pick! Bless you! Of course please feel free to share. I am just getting started with my blog and am still learning the ropes. Once I see how it is done, I will share something you have written as well, for I am always touched, inspired and challenged toward Godliness in your posts. I am looking forward to learning from you! Blessings!

  5. Love that story. When I was a teenager, I built a radio shack kit for a metal detector. Always fun looking for forgotten or lost stuff. God sees what we overlook or miss. I want to look for buried treasure in others. Thanks.

    • I love your story, too! I am amazed to even think of someone building a metal detector and it sounds like it worked! I remember we attempted to build some small transistor radios from kits, but it always seemed like you needed some sort of special touch on the wires to hear anything. Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly with your desire to find the buried treasures in others. Give us a heart like yours, Lord!

  6. This is beautiful. It reminds me of my late mother.
    My birthstone is sapphire and she bought me a beautiful white gold ring with a sparkling blue sapphire stone for my birthday one year. I was a teenager and careless. I lost it. Many, many years later she surprised me with a custom pendent and there that sapphire was, encased within tiny diamonds and partnered with a ruby from her favorite necklace. She had been walking in the backyard and there, barely visible in encased within the hard West Texas dirt, was that sparkling sapphire ring.
    God sees our beauty sparkling through our imperfections and, yes, worse than that. If only we will let Him mold us into something beautiful and emblematic of Him.

    • I’m so glad you were blessed by this post! Thank you for reading it and for sharing your story, too. It touched my heart to read it. Your mother knew the blue sapphire would be treasured someday. The interesting thing is, the gemstone is even more cherished because it was once lost but now has been found. The way your mother wove your gemstone and hers together into the new custom pendant is so profound. That’s a Disney movie ending! Love it! And you are right, when we yield our lives to God, he can weave together an ending that outshines the best movie ever to hit the screens.

  7. This is a beautiful analogy. God searches for us and we spend our life searching for something and we struck it rich when we find God. Thanks for the wonderful story. God bless

  8. Beautifully written! I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what your husband would find! THose are the best kind of treasures. As my girls grow, how I try to hold on to those memories of times past. But your message is so true. God is so patient with us, slowly detecting and redeeming us. Thank you for a beautiful post!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Luisa! I do love to hold on to precious family memories, too. I am so grateful for God’s patient work, redeeming every bit of us, drawing out the best so we can glorify Him. God bless you!

  9. Thank you Melissa – you have a great way of drawing important lessons from life
    I love this “What do you hope to find?” “Whatever there may be hidden from our view. Who knows? ”
    A great metaphor for enjoying and learning and growing as we go through life with others – always seeking – always with that explorers spirit = Who knows what we will find? It is and adventure!

    • Bob, thanks for your input here! For those of us who are believers, God’s Word is like an endless field of treasures to be searched. I find the same to be true in life. When we seek God, we can find His touch and His truth in so many places. Blessings!

  10. Dear Melissa!

    I’ve always been fascinated by those metal detectors 🙂

    Special story about the old ring; that’s something!

    Yes, God keeps looking for us, even at times when aren’t looking for Him.

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

    • Beth, I appreciate your feedback! It can be difficult to understand others’ passions when they hold no interest for us. But in this case, you are right, it is a tiny glimpse of God’s patience with us. Bless you!

  11. Melissa, your writing is so beautiful. You paint visual images with magical words, conjuring up the warmth of a summer evening and the scent of the grass. With those images come the emotions of the moment, the cozy joy of recalling faraway days and then the moment of impact in our hearts that God himself orchestrates from all these things. Your writing is a blessing. Thank you for this account. It brought back long-gone days in the backyard where our own children grew and played. It reminded me of God’s seeking and searching of my own heart, mind, and ways. This piece is a gift. Thank you!

  12. Melissa, this was so beautifully written, and the message is wonderful, too! I love the word picture you’ve painted–God patiently seeking us out (and enjoying every minute of it), and finding worth in us, though we are so inadequate in and of ourselves. Thank you for sharing this!

  13. What a lovely reminder that God seeks us in such a loving and determined way. Even though I ‘know’ that…it’s easy to forget. When I am living with this truth in the front of my mind, it really does change the way that I live. Thank you. I needed this reminder tonight. 🙂

    • Dear Susan, thank you for taking the time to read, reflect and comment. As believers, you are right, we need to revisit the truth of God’s love and grace over and over. How easily our minds are cluttered with life. I thank God if this story brought back the joy of His unending pursuit for us. God bless you!

  14. Good stuff, Melissa. What a cool analogy!
    First, I really like the idea of digging up the treasure. I want to be a treasure hunter for others. It’s a part of how God made me. Except for me it’s about finding the good things God has planted in a person, maybe things that lie buried, and bring them out for others to see. That’s a great process.
    Second, I like that God does this for me. When I’m lost it’s God’s kindness that brings me back. It’s his relentless pursuit of me because I’m his child and not his desire to punish me that brings me back. What a good God we serve. Thanks for sharing!

    • I appreciate your feedback and insights, Chip! I am so grateful for God’s kind patience with me and for His desire to keep drawing me toward Him. I love your idea of applying this then to our relationships with others, searching out their God-given gifts, talents and faith. May we be an extension of God’s work bringing forth beauty from ashes wherever we go. God bless!


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