I remember the first time I went geocaching. Some friends invited me and my daughters to join them on several different searches for caches in the area. I had no idea how incredibly fun it would be! The prizes were insignificant really: a tiny plastic toy soldier, a cloth badge, or simply being able to record that we found the cache. But it was the combination of the search together with the unrevealed prize that got my juices moving. I noticed how the kids as well as the adults engaged the hunt with glee.
This search for treasure reminds me of what Jesus said about the Kingdom: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).
In this passage, Jesus explains how both persons are on a search, one very deliberately and the other by happenstance. But the rejoicing of each at finding the prize is the same. They know they have discovered something very special.
Finding my own pearl of the Kingdom transformed my life. After finding that pearl, God entrusted me with something more: He made me a bearer of Kingdom pearls which I can drop along the path for others to find.
Here are two stories about some “pearl seekers” that I’ve spent time with recently...
When “José” and I first met for coffee, he shared, “I just want you to know that I don’t believe in God. I’m not a religious person at all.” But he kept bringing up spiritual questions in our conversations. I asked God to let me sow pearls of the Kingdom in José’s path, and a few weeks ago, I noticed a shift. “You know I’m an agnostic,” he shared, “I don’t know if there’s a God, but just in case…” I recommitted to keep seeding pearls!
I met “Cristóbal” a couple of years ago. He recently told me, “I think I’m losing my faith.” As I listened, God helped me lay down some pearls for this young man, who I perceive is searching for something more significant with God. After our conversation, he shared, “I never considered that this wrestling with my faith might be the Lord taking me to a new place. I feel like I have a new perspective.” More pearls of the Kingdom of God.
In both of these stories, the pull toward the hidden pearls of the Kingdom of God is strong and present. Deep inside, the human heart and spirit long for the day of rejoicing at finding the pearls of God’s Kingdom along the path of life.
Learning to Sow Wisely
The pearls I like to sow are ideas, comments, and questions, which help lead people to encounter the rickety reasoning or assumed beliefs upon which they have built their lives. I consider these open doors to more substantive conversations. One friend, for example, loves science and is unsure of God’s existence, but he is certain of a beginning to the universe. I simply asked him during one of our conversations, “Since science has demonstrated that it takes incredible amounts of energy for miniscule amounts of matter to be created, who then do you think was the power behind the creation of the vast universe we know exists today?” What ensued was a rich conversation of the possibility and probability of God’s presence in creation.
There are a few keys to pearl-dropping that I’ve found important: The first is to rely on the Spirit to provide the space and moment for these conversations. Second, we are responsible for building significant relational trust with people so that when the pearl-dropping moment comes, we can move in with confidence. And lastly, it’s important to be knowledgeable on themes that come up in our conversations, in order to respond reasonably. It’s simply not good enough in today’s world of knowledge and information to toss out Christian platitudes as the understanding of our faith.
Looking for moments to sow pearls is like spiritual geocaching; you don’t get much previous information, but you search for spiritual clues which lead to the discovery of opportunities. Your compass in this search is the Spirit, and he’s also there to guide your response when the opportunity arises.
I see sowing pearls as Jesus’s modus operandi—his parables were filled with Kingdom pearls. He rarely spelled things out for people; rather, he dropped well placed spiritual pearls for people to discover and pursue by saying, “Hey Jesus, tell me more about this.” We can do likewise.
Kingdom pearls are the greatest treasure someone could ever find—and sowing them for others is one of the greatest adventures I’ve ever been on! Would you like to join me?
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- What are some recent pearls of the Kingdom that you can point to in your own journey of discovery that have made you rejoice?
- How does sowing pearls of God’s Kingdom for others to find resonate with you in light of Jesus’s command to go and make disciples?
- Who has God put in your life right now whose path you’d love to sow with pearls of his Kingdom?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Randy Gonzales and his wife, Doralicia, and their two daughters, live and serve in Málaga, Spain.