September 12, 1887 - Telluride, Colorado
William Smithson was on his way to Pendel’s General Store. He had staked his claim on a potential mine. He hoped it had enough gold to make surviving a Colorado winter worthwhile.
John Pendel stepped up to the counter at the sound of the bell, “How can I help ya?”
“Just needing an outfit for a mine I laid claim to this morning,” William beamed.
John grunted and pointed to a corner filled with spades, pick axes and other assorted essentials for mining. He’s seen men come and go so he tried not to get too personal with the revolving-door miners.
“I hear they’re doing some good in the mountain hereabouts,” William attempted to strike up conversation.
“Suppose so,” John countered. “Snow’ll be comin’ soon, might want to build a shanty ‘fore ya fancy yourself a gopher.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Will replied in confusion.
John’s prediction came true and Will’s small clapboard shack barely held in heat and did little to keep the cold out, but he persevered. He mined as best he could and found just enough gold to barely keep him fed.
“I’m hungry for a strike,” he told John one morning in exasperation.
“Oh, well you’re in good company Mr. Smithson,” came the store keeps response.
“This is not what I expected.”
John brought over a coffee cup and filled it for the green horn. “It never is. You scramble for the easy payoff and it just don’t come. You hunger after the mother lode and she lurks just a bit further back in the cave.”
“Why don’t you take up mining, John?”
He chuckled, “‘Cause I want to make money. I keep the miner’s supplied while they go chasing their dreams. I stay inside with a pot bellied stove and a full till. I’m not gonna tramp around dark caves in cold mountains wonderin’ if I’m gonna make it through the day. No sir.”
Will remained thoughtful, “Say, John. I noticed a heap of gold stones outside. If that’s gold why don’t nobody make off with it?”
“Probably ‘cause most people round these parts know that there is Telluride Ore. Now, it’s got gold in it, but nobody’s figured out a way to separate the gold from the tellurium. So they bring it to me and I throw it out back ‘cause they don’t want it and I can’t use it,” the store owner replied.
“Well, best be going,” Will said as he grasped the fabric sack of staples and reached for the door. “Say John, I think I noticed a few chunks of coal in that mess, can I take them.”
“Suit yourself,” John replied absently as he worked through the days receipts.
The stove blazed brightly that night as Will slept. The next morning the fire had already burned out. He shoveled some residue away but was met by an peculiar site. It was startling enough that he had to raise his lamp to look. The bottom of his stove was literally covered in gold. What he had presumed was a handful of coal was actually Telluride Ore. The fire burned off the tellurium leaving behind purified gold.
Within three years a gold boom aided by the accidental discovery of the refining procedure of tellurium laced gold helped establish the resort community of Telluride, Colorado.
While the names and specifics of the above have been altered for dramatic purposes, there is truth to be found in Telluride.
Most of us will agree that we’ve faced our own share of hunger for things just out of reach. What’s offered seems much less than we wanted. We scramble for more and find the life we’re chasing is slipping further from view.
Some of us feel like Telluride Ore tossed by the wayside because no one in their right mind would consider us valuable. We convince ourselves that we are second class. Yet just like that ore, if you’ve believed in Jesus Christ, you have gold inside. The real McCoy has been there all along. Now God might have to apply some heat to bring that gold out, but the hunger that’s been raging deep within will only be satisfied in the refiner’s fire of God’s love.
“…I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities…” (Isaiah 1:25 - NLT)
When gold is purified it becomes almost mirror-like in quality. Have you been through the fire? Who does your life reflect?