“Today we’re going on a treasure hunt,” my sixth grade teacher announced.
I rolled my eyes as I considered another boring field trip. My classmates were thrilled to go outside – all I wanted to do was read my book.
“Come on, Jake,” said Natalie. “Let’s go. You’re always the last – this time you’ll be first.”
I had no choice but to go with Natalie. Once outside, we headed down the path toward the wooded area.
Mrs. Peterson said, “here are the rules. Each pair of students will find one item. Do not tell anyone what your item is. Return here with your object. When all the parts are collected, you will see what our treasure is today.”
“What do we have to find?” I asked. I was curious about this treasure hunt that was different from our other field trips.
“It says ‘something shiny that looks like gold.’” Natalie looked puzzled. “Well, we won’t find it sitting here. Let’s get going.”
With that, we headed left while everyone else went to the right. “Let’s look near the creek.” Natalie was adventurous. I preferred sitting alone with a good book.
Near the creek, I saw something sparkling, almost out of sight in the bushes. “What’s that?” The only problem was that it was on the other side of the creek. “We can’t cross, so let’s move on.”
“Wait,” Natalie said. “You stay here, I’ll cross over. Don’t go anywhere!”
“Yeah, right,” I replied. “As if I could just get up and go.”
I watched as Natalie, the most prissy girl I’d ever met, walked daintily into the creek, being careful not to get her dress wet. Once across, she peered into the brush and exclaimed, “Wait until you see this. It’s shimmering. I hope this is what Mrs. Peterson wants us to find.”
“Bring it here,” I said excitedly. “I want to see it, too.”
Gracefully, Natalie tiptoed back across the creek. Her cupped hands carried a treasure known only to her. Grinning broadly, she opened her hands to reveal it. I gasped. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Is it real?” Tentatively, I reached out my hand, but stopped. No one else in class would let me carry anything and I expected that Natalie would be the same. To my surprise, she gently handed it to me.
“You carry it back,” she said. “I think it’s the best thing we could find.”
As we neared the school, I looked at Natalie and asked, “Why are you being nice to me? No one else pays any attention to me. I feel like an outcast, being stuck in this wheelchair.”
Kneeling in front of me, soiling her dress, Natalie said, “I see what’s in your heart. God made you for a purpose and He doesn’t make junk. Consider what you hold in your hand. Would anyone else even have seen that, almost buried in the bushes? Yet you saw it. That’s how God works – He finds those who seem to be lost.” Standing up, she walked behind me and began to push my chair. Laughing, she said, “besides, I like you.”
The short walk back to the schoolyard made me think about friendship. Before I could figure it out, we arrived. Mrs. Peterson came close. “What did you two find?” Looking into my hand, she smiled. “Oh, that’s perfect. I haven’t seen one of those in years.”
The students arrived and began to show their treasures. There was a delicate flower, a golden rock, and a leaf that had no missing parts.
Mrs. Peterson said, “we have an assortment of things. What’s the same about them?”
Todd, the class clown, said, “they’re not worth anything. I thought we would find buried treasure.”
Lucy said, “they all come from the earth. Nothing was made for a store.”
“Jake and Natalie, what did you find?” Mrs. Peterson asked.
I held out my hands as the ten students came close. “It’s a snail,” I said in response to the questions. “I thought I saw gold in the bush, but it’s alive and it’s beautiful.” Turning my head, I smiled at Natalie. “It’s beautiful, just like a best friend.”
Mrs. Peterson explained our lesson. “The object is to understand that the best treasure of all is knowing Jesus Christ, our Creator. Second best is knowing you have a true friend.” Looking at me, she said, “isn’t it peculiar that the Latin name of that snail translates into “radiant friendship?”
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