Treasure Hunt

As a kid, I used to dream of adventurous searches for buried treasure. My own versions of Indiana Jones would play in my head as I followed torn maps over mountains and through glorious waterfalls until I stumbled into massive trees where I knew treasure just HAD to be.  Excitement would build as I dug at tree roots and my heart rate would become in anticipation until an amazing unveiling of gold and jewels appeared.treasuremaplarge  In every dream, the “feeling” associated with my discovery was utter wonderment followed by indescribable peace.  I’ve recently wondered why peace was associated with the find and realized that treasure = hope, fulfillment and an answered prayer to our needs.

There’s a reason the National Treasure movie and Indiana Jones were so wildly popular. People crave treasure because of the worth and value of everything feeling like it’s going to be okay. What we are really seeking is PEACE: peace of mind and peace of spirit.

My thirst for finding treasure has never abated. I still crave the venture of finding the pot of gold under the rainbow. But I’ve given up on sunken ships and hordes of diamonds hidden in temples: not because I think it doesn’t exist! Instead, I’ve discovered there’s a different kind of treasure far greater and more fulfilling than any we could have ever imagined and it is worth our full pursuit. Such treasure promises a peace that passes all understanding.

A very good friend of mine, Steve Foster, discovered this treasure and made it his life’s quest to unearth its glory and share it with everyone.steve1 Steve was my brother in Christ, a friend, a spiritual father and a mentor who went home to heaven on December 23, 2016. The temporary separation is and has been painful for many of us. His early departure has left us in search for something irreplaceable, of great worth, something precious and one of a kind.

When Steve unexpectedly ended up in the Intensive Care Unit, there was a poignant moment when I realized Steve was RICH! He had immense riches beyond compare. It was the moment his father took his hand and started to pray quietly, “Steve. Open your eyes, son.  Steve, we want you here with us, son.”  His wife was in his bed with him, praying in agreement. His children and family crowding every inch of his room and his friends overflowing into the hallways, eagerly hoping the prayer of a father would be answered.  But Steve didn’t open his eyes and his father continued to pray, “Hallelujah. God we love you. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.”

The sheer power of that moment overwhelmed anyone in proximity, including me. So much, I wanted to flee from the quaking I felt in my heart. But when I ran out of the unit and into the hallways, I was met by even more people; camped, crowded, standing, waiting, praying, hoping and believing for their friend and brother. The flow of faces offering hope and comfort never ceased and the prayers, in counts of hundreds, came in booming waves. There was no escaping the outpouring of love for one man and his family.

Witnessing it leaves you tearful and wordless.

It has taken weeks for me to process the loss and all I’ve witnessed and experienced. It has taken time to dwell on the best way to celebrate and honor a man and family of this caliber. At his celebration services, the main theme to describe Steve’s life was a phrase he repeated often. He had felt God gave him a promise: “You take care of my people and I’ll take care of your business.” Therefore, the stories shared about Steve’s life were about how he invested in and took care of people. That meant, as I mentioned before, Steve was RICH.

I was one of the lucky ones to be blessed by his life. I met Steve and Cathy after being invited to their home group. I was one of the youngest in the bunch and afraid of committing regularly to small groups. At the time, I found this group a little “over spiritual” so I’d sit in the back and quietly try to process what was going on. Even when tempted not to go back, something always drew me. In hindsight, it was how welcomed and loved they made me feel and more importantly, how REAL everyone was. They were free to be themselves: in all of their glory and their…not so glorious parts.  They say, as the leader goes, so does the people. And Steve was always real, down to earth, accepting, and transparent and so….everyone followed. Steve didn’t always share during group, but when he did, it was always something that would challenge you to think in a new way that wasn’t just for that moment…but for your life!

Fellowshipping together meant you were going to laugh. Steve was a hysterical story teller. The funniest stuff was always his stories about how stupid he had been (his words, I promise). He often got out of spending tickets using his humor. One time he was pulled over after running a red light in his Toyota Prius. When the cop asked him if he knew he had run the red light, he answered “No sir!” The cop gave him an upturned eyebrow to which Steve adamantly shared truth: “Well, I saw the light turning yellow and punched it! But let’s be honest, it’s a Prius! I thought I had it…but I didn’t.” He got off with a chuckle and a warning.

Many people shared that Steve saved their marriages and even their lives. Their stories resonated with me because in a recent, deeply painful season, Steve stepped in and spoke God’s love over me and pulled me out of the pit of mistaken identity. He broke down the lies and offered the respite of God’s truth about my royal inheritance and position as Daughter of the King. The effect in my life was immediate and effective.

When the season for our small group came to an end, I was searching for mentorship in ministry. Steve answered the call. Cathy and Steve invested in my life, showing up at my birthdays, supporting missions and interceding for my purpose and destiny.

Steve is charismatic, intelligent, wise and had an ongoing investment in people: LOTS of people. But he balanced that outpouring with an inpouring of worship and prayer. In 2014, I went on a trip to Haiti and Steve offered to be an intercessor. Spiritual warfare and crazy stuff happened that I had never experienced before. As soon as I got back, Steve asked me, “Hey! What happened on this day/morning?” I said, “Why?” He replied, “Because the spiritual warfare was intense! I got knocked out of bed to pray and this is what I prayed against and for. So what happened?” I shared the stories with him and he calmly replied, “Oh. That explains it. Cool.”   Steve’s chuckle and bear hugs were not to be mistaken for weakness: he’s a powerful prayer warrior.  He knows how to battle darkness and darkness flees. He spent the early morning hours with the One who inspired him to love and be loved. He called him Daddy. Much of the fruit of Steve’s life came from time with him and his Daddy. And we all knew it because Daddy above would tell Steve stuff he shouldn’t have known about us otherwise. J

I watched Steve teach about true wealth and testify about treasure of great worth even as he lay in an induced coma for days. Steve’s riches walked in and out of his room continually, laid hands on him and prayed for him, comforted his daughters, prayed with his sons, brought food for his watch guards and called for prayer from all corners of the nation. Steve’s jewels stayed by his side day and night, caressed his arms and hands reassuringly and never stopped speaking life over him. Steve was rich.10730934_10152542763918634_4277685228245405805_n

Like many of us, Steve yearned for treasure of great worth.

Like many of us, he searched with a treasure map in hand and that journey took many turns. Sometimes, taken down a path of doubtful asking, “Is this right? This can’t be right!?” We end up in foreign, muddy, dark and questionable places that seem to be leading us away, not towards, our goal.  But just around the corner was a respite and God’s grace: a sign everything was going to work out.  The important thing was to keep going: keep searching and never give up.

Steve realized it’s not about finding the treasure: it’s about allowing the Treasure to find you. He discovered the greatest mystery of this life: the mystery of True Love in pursuit of us: the mystery of God’s love coming down and seeking US out… like WE ARE THE TREASURE.  Steve let himself be found by his Daddy in heaven. He let Him love him and give him eyes to see that the Prince of Peace came to give of Himself for us and to us so that we might have the peace that passes all understanding.

God in heaven, who has untold riches and treasures at His fingertips, stepped into our messy map of a world in search of something more precious than all the glory of heaven: YOU and ME.

My dear friend discovered this divinely wonderful truth and he let himself be found by God. He let himself be loved so much that he couldn’t help but overflow with a full heart. Then, like his Daddy before him, he set out on a mission with Jesus by his side to help many of us discover how to be found by the Treasure of Heaven and then identify as the priceless object of His affection.

I haven’t given up my search for treasure but learned from my friend what treasure really is. A treasure far greater and more fulfilling than any we could have ever imagined: one worth our full pursuit. One that will bring us untold rest, peace, glory and love. The pursuit of the Treasure of Heaven is the ultimate answer to the wanderlust of our soul and pays dividends of joy for allllllllllll eternity!

I have images of Steve talking about his “treasures.” First, His Daddy…then his wife, his kids and the investments of the heart. He often became emotional when talking about the riches of love he had.  But nothing was more moving than watching tears fill his eyes when he talked about how much God loved him.

And there it is. Our everlasting discovery and hope: the love of the Father for us. It fuels everything and I cannot think of a greater way to honor my friend than to pick up the mantel of “treasure hunting”.  May our eyes be open to the eternal investments we make in God, with God and in one another.

Thank you God for your everlasting love! For seeing us as your treasure.

Thank you for Steve and allowing us to be blessed by him.

Thank you for enabling us to be loved by you! May we seek you and then to be found by your True Love.

May we hear and follow Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In honor of Steve Foster 10/18/62-12/23/16. Till we meet again, brother.

-Angela

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