by Fr Gabriel-Allan Boyd
Many years ago, a kindhearted King put on a disguise and traveled, to secretly look into an area of His Kingdom that he heard was in trouble. As He came upon a village in the area, he could plainly see that they’d suffered a catastrophic drought. They had run out of food to feed their children. Every day was a day closer to starvation and they didn’t know where to go, or what to do about it.
He felt great compassion on his people and took action immediately. He called all of them together, revealed His true identity as their King and promised to rescue them from their terrible plight if they would only follow Him to where He had a wonderful surprise for them. Much further away in His Kingdom, outside of the drought-stricken area, a gold vein had recently been discovered that was so large, it promised untold wealth for His Kingdom. Wanting to use this wealth to help the people in His Kingdom, he put together a unique plan. The King sent for his troops, who came to help pack up this village of people and lead them to the area of the gold mine. There, He helped them build new homes and showed them the gold mine. He told them that He would put them in charge of the gold mine if they would but fulfill one promise for Him. They had to agree to mine the gold below, to go down and dig. They were welcome to use it to help their own families as long as they used it also, out of gratitude to the King, to help His Kingdom around them as well. He told them that they were only limited by their imaginations in what they could accomplish with that gold.
Of course, that little village happily accepted their new charge. They gladly went down and began digging. Out of gratitude for the great mercy that was shown to them, entire families went down to dig, excited to know that not only were they improving each other’s lot, but also the lives of so many others in the Kingdom who might have been struggling like they had. They used the gold to offer their kids the best education. They used this education to continually come up with better ways to improve the kingdom. They built roads. They built bridges. They dug wells. They built hospitals. They worked so joyfully and so hard at fulfilling the King’s wishes, that everywhere around them the Kingdom flourished more and more from the fruit of their gratitude.
They were so excited about this great gift that they decided to build a museum over the top of that gold mine. It was meant to commemorate and to honor this generous act that the King had done, putting them in charge of the building up His Kingdom. It was a grand and wonderful gold-gilt museum…cathedral-like in its magnificence. Many came to visit the museum…so many that in fact, they pulled most of the miners from below, to come up top and help manage the upkeep of this great institution. After a while, those who dug in the mines never wanted to go back below. Mining was too hard when compared to life in the museum. Years went by…and then decades. The museum began discouraging visits from outsiders and set up a system of security guards to make sure that their gold-gilt edifice was protected. The mother-lode gold vein below the museum had become a vague memory. In fact, many of the people began to wonder if it was just a myth…a nice story that people told. Those who guarded the museum began to tell each other that there was no longer any gold to be found below. Some even began to doubt if there was ever really any gold at all. In time, no one even bothered to actually go down below to investigate for themselves. Children began to regard the tale of this merciful King who rescued the starving village as just that…an old folk story that probably wasn’t even true. Little by little, the people began to regard the museum as nothing more than a relic of an old-fashioned past that had no relevance to their lives today. They began to focus their attention on other things, on their own entertainment, on whiling away the hours in self-absorbed pursuits. Gold was no longer being used to help make the Kingdom a better place…and the Kingdom stopped flourishing until eventually the people of that village began to find themselves steeped in poverty once again. And the saddest thing about this story is that right underneath them, as they suffered in poverty, there continued to be a gold mine with a vein so large that, even after all those years of mining, its potential was still quite unlimited.
What would that King say if he found those people he had saved from extreme poverty all those years earlier… no longer doing as He asked with His gold mine…no longer doing as they promised…no longer digging for the gold…no longer using it to help His Kingdom? What would you think about their gratitude towards His great gift?
I wonder how many of us have stopped to realize that two millennia ago, our own King, the Lord Jesus Christ, did come. He found His people famishing amidst a terrible spiritual drought. He brought them to the spiritual mother-lode vein and asked them to mine it for the sake of themselves and their families…and then, out of gratitude to Him, to offer it to the rest of the world. He asked us to use it in partnership with Him to build up His Kingdom…to cause it to flourish.
In every Divine Liturgy we recite, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…” But, how many of us have given much thought to what we’re saying? Has it just become part of a quaint story we tell ourselves about an imaginary kingdom from long, long ago? Do we merely come to church like it was some kind of a museum that helps us feel good about ourselves as moral people, or religious, or spiritual people? Have we come to believe that there isn’t really any spiritual gold down there…so we spend our lives in doing everything but digging? How many of us, by our actions, have convinced our children of the same…that it’s not worth digging for…it’s all just a nice myth. All the while, the world around us is in spiritual poverty and we haven’t even begun to tap that unlimited mother lode vein. What will our King say about our gratitude? What will He say about our nice museum? What will he say about the spiritual poverty we allow our children to live in, as we sit over the motherlode vein? What will He think about our worship, when the world around us is crumbling and we’ve done nothing to honor Him with the amazing resources He’s given us stewardship over?
Our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, didn’t put us in charge of a museum. He has asked us to mine for this spiritual gold that He’s placed us in charge of…and to use it to help, not only our own families, but to also help the world around us.
What will our King do with us? Will He take this gold mine away from us and give it to some other people who can show more gratitude? Will he give it to those who have such gratitude for His great mercy that they will actually go down and dig? Will He give it instead to a people who will use its resources to build in-roads and bridges between the societies around them, reconciling them to one another and to God? Will He give it instead to a people who will use its resources to dig wells, offering living water to the many around them who are dying from the spiritual drought? Will He give it to a people who will use its resources to build hospitals, so that those around us who are spiritually injured and diseased can find comfort and healing? Will He give it to a people who will work so joyfully and so hard at fulfilling the King’s wishes, that everywhere around them the Kingdom begins to once again flourish from the fruit of their gratitude? Will our King take this gold mine from us and give it to these other people? He did it once before (Matthew 3:7-10). Will He do it again?
So, how much time do you spend each day digging? Have you begun teaching your children to dig? How much of what you’re finding in that mother-lode vein do you offer the world to help our Lord’s Kingdom to flourish?