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.
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.
Photos ©Melissa McLaughlin