Summary: Don`t miss out on God`s riches.

One day, a long time ago in South Africa, an old man was kneeling, digging in a river bed. He was a gold prospector, and had been for many years. Every now and then he had found a little bit of gold - not enough to make him rich - just enough to provide him with food and drink for a week or two - just enough to keep him digging for a few weeks more.

The river he was digging in now was quite new to him - and there were more signs than usual of the presence of gold. He was quite excited, gripped by the old gold fever - but, once again he found little of substance.

As the dig neared its end, he found himself exhausted and discouraged. He was just about to go home when he saw some pebbles. He liked the look of them, so he slipped them into his pocket - there were about a dozen of them. At home he got out a tin and put the pebbles into it. It was a tin filled with special things - letters from his son. A photo of his wife who had died some years before - the collar from a dog who had lived with him, but had died 18 months before...............He put the tin back on a shelf in a cupboard and forgot about it.

Another ten years went by and he still hadn`t made that longed for gold strike. And now he was VERY old, and ill, with no money to pay for a doctor - and so he died.

A few days later the police came to his house. They looked through his belongings to see if there was anything they could sell to pay for his funeral, but found nothing of any value. Even his home was just an old wooden hut dropping to pieces.

And then they found the tin. As one of them looked through it, he gasped with surprise. "Look at this" he said, and the others came and looked. He was pointing to the pebbles the old man had placed in that tin 10 years before. "THEY`RE UNCUT DIAMONDS", he said, "THEY`RE WORTH A FORTUNE"!

The old man had been very rich, but had died thinking that he was very poor, because he hadn`t looked closely enough at what he thought were just ordinary pebbles. He`d spent the whole of his life searching for riches, but had missed seeing that those pebbles were the answer to his longings.

One of the most beautiful things that St. Paul ever wrote in any of his letters is this:

"You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rich as He was, He made Himself poor, in order to make you rich by His poverty".

That verse isn`t talking about EARTHLY riches, of course....... Jesus didn`t come to give us EARTHLY riches, but to share with us the richness of His Father in Heaven.

Those riches or not things you can touch or taste or smell or handle. They`re difficult to recognise even when you see them, but they are BEAUTIFUL. Beautiful things like HAPPINESS, JOY, PEACE AND LOVE.

Jesus Himself OVERFLOWED with all these things. As the Epistle to the Hebrews says "He is the one whom God had chosen to possess all things at the end". Yes, Jesus possessed all these things in Himself. His life was a JOYFUL life even if it brought |Him many sorrows. It was a life where He could rest peacefully in the knowledge that the Father loved Him and held Him safely in His arms through the most devastating experiences, through tremendous criticism, misunderstanding and hatred. And when Jesus died on the Cross, He died so that all those riches could be poured out to US - we became His inheritors.

Today, however, many people are like that Gold Prospector - looking for a rich happiness, yet not looking deeply enough at the riches that Jesus holds out to them. They don`t look closely enough at Jesus to see that He is AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN, the answer to all they have longed for. Like that old man they miss the best in life - they miss what is right under their noses.

That story is a favourite one of mine. It`s made me think many times. This week it made me think not just about the old Gold Prospector and what HE missed, but about his SON - the son who inherited all his riches.

I wonder if he ever thought about his father and how he had struggled, unsatisfied all those years. I wonder if he understood how much it had cost his father to keep on going through all the disappointments. Above all I wonder if he really appreciated the value of his inheritance and let it change his life completely.......

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