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This evening I would like to go on a treasure hunt with all of you. Most of us have at one time or another read or heard about some of the great treasure finds of history. From the golden treasures of Ancient Pharaonic Egypt, in King Tut’s tomb to the fabled lost gold of the Incas we have thought about what it must be like to first stumble on hidden treasure. The sunken galleons and their hordes of gold and silver coins, the gem stones of India and the fabled lost cities all keep the treasure hunters going.
But did you know the single largest buried treasure ever unearthed was not too far from us in the state of Nevada? This is a page from recent American history that is worth repeating and helping us as we start in our study of the Gospel by Mark. Let me share with you the secret of mining for gold in the Gospel by Mark as you open with me to Mark 1.
Now that you are there, let me remind you of the Wild West of 150 years past. Prospectors and gold diggers were crisscrossing the West a century and a half ago. The great gold strikes in California only fanned the treasure hunter’s hearts as they dug, mined, and panned for gold across the western states. Among the many stories of this period one stands out most vividly when gold was found at the head of Six-Mile Canyon in the territory of Nevada in 1859.
Two miners named Pat McLaughlin and Peter O’Reilly found a small vein of gold and immediately went to town to sell it and buy a drink. In their weakened state from alcohol, a fellow miner, Henry Comstock, stumbled upon their find and claimed it was on his property. The gullible McLaughlin and O’Reilly believed him and assured Comstock a place in history when the giant lode was named. The most amazing part of the story though is not the loss of O’Reilly and McLaughlin, it is the amazing amount of treasure that was actually there all the time and yet unnoticed for so long!
When Comstock began following the thin vein of gold up the canyon, he found an outcropping of gold in quartz. Each day as he went to town to sell his gold to the assayer’s office he would bitterly complain. He kept telling them that his biggest problem in his grubstake paradise was the sticky blue-gray mud that so tenaciously clung to his mules, his wagons, his picks, his shovels, and most of all like lead to his boots. With that the assayer came around the counter with a knife and asked if he could scrape some of this mud off his boots.
When the mud was assayed, it proved to be silver ore worth over $2,000 a ton – but that was in 1859 dollars! That was a dollar per shovel full then or in terms we understand in January 2000 money – it was equal to over $400 per shovel scooped! Can you imagine the way he ran back and began to shovel the gray dirt when he made it back to his land? Literally billions No wonder the Crocker Bank of California and the Hearst Fortune both began here.
Have you started turning shovels of blessings into gold from the Gospels? There is a simple way to do just that: