We were off, two teams of excited children running down the sidewalk anxious to figure out the clues in this divine “Treasure Hunt”.
- Clue 1: Black Cap
- Clue 2: The Sun
- Clue 3: Boulevard
- Clue 4: Snake Tattoo
- Clue 5: Aisle 3
The prize? A blue "First Place" ribbon. Who would get the prize?
Thirty minutes earlier these children sat quietly around their tables listening to God’s answers to their request for clues. Jose saw in his mind a black cap and the word “Boulevard”, Leslie heard the word “The Sun”, my daughter’s snapshot image was a snake tattoo and an impression of “Aisle 3”. They wrote each clue down on their papers and then the excitement began.
Drama had been the norm in some of these children’s lives; their parents or relatives had been rescued out of gangs through Christ’s powerful love. They now found their community at our church, Praise Chapel. But this was a different drama; this was the anticipation of wonder.
Excited chatter rose as they compared clues, figuring out where to go.
“The Sun, Boulevard…Sunset Boulevard!” shouted Jose.
“There’s a grocery store on Sunset, let’s go to Aisle 3.”
“A black cap, a black cap, a black cap!!!!”
I was running to keep up. On the way we stopped everyone with a black cap asking if they had a snake tattoo, first in English then in Spanish. No one yet…
“Keep going, keep going, there’s the grocery store!”
Onto aisle three and there was the shop assistant, no cap, no tattoo, and no one else on the aisle. What next?
“Let’s look down all the aisles,” Leslie piped up.
And there, on the liquor aisle, were two men scanning the shelves for the night's libations … and one of them was wearing a black cap.
Jose ran up to him. “Hey you have a black cap!” The man was taken aback. He looked at me questioningly. Before I could explain my daughter chimed in, “You have tattoos! Do you have a snake tattoo?”
Disarmed by the children’s innocence he rolled up his sleeve to reveal an enormous snake winding its way round his wrist, up his forearm, across the bicep, and glowering at us from his shoulder. I showed the man our papers with the five clues. On Sunset Boulevard, a grocery store with an “Aisle 3”, a man with a black cap and snake tattoo.
“We asked God to give us clues and here’s what he gave us. We think you might be who we’re looking for, what do you think?” He lifted his sunglasses and looked at me in amazement. Leslie, four years old, couldn’t help herself, her face full of wonder, “You’re the treasure we’ve been looking for! God loves you so much and wants you to know that you have first place in his heart.”
She handed him the blue “First Place” ribbon. Tears welling up in his eyes, the man replied: “Thank you, thank you... you don’t know how much this means to me.”
We all returned to church with excitement, eager to share with the other group who God’s treasure was, who had heard the message of grace, and whose broken heart God had begun to bind up through these children’s wonderful obedience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alastair Rundle and his wife, Catherine, spent the last 6 years living and serving among the poor in downtown Los Angeles with their two young children. They recently moved to Redding, California, where they are now serving and praying to see a movement of God begin.