June 11, 2008

A Hidden Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matt. 13:44).
2008 1516 page6 caps a musician, I enjoy a wide range of 
music styles. From the festive melodies of Appalachian fiddlers to the intricate counterpoint of a Bach fugue to the celebratory lyrics of Negro spirituals, there is always something unique and different to discover in each musical genre.
Most musical forms are expressions of the culture in which they’re born. For example, the civil rights and antiwar movements in the United States during the 1960s spawned a whole group of freedom and protest songs that gained wide popularity. They form a major portion of folk music. You can still hear many of these songs at rallies and political gatherings today.
As I listen to various recordings, one difficulty I have is finding the time to keep up with the ever-changing music styles. It’s so easy to get engaged in a Scottish folk band, a Beethoven symphony, or contemporary worship music. I’ve often listened to a single recording for days or weeks at a time. Only after several weeks or months would I step back and explore other artists and musical styles.
A Forgotten Treasure
A few months ago I made a discovery of sorts. There was an old, sealed box at the back of my garage. It was stashed away in a corner, partially hidden under other boxes. Though I had a good idea of its contents, my memory had faded a bit. The box hadn’t been opened for 22 years. I had packed it before I moved to Maryland to join the Adventist Review staff.
2008 1516 page6When I opened the box I found a treasure chest of music—nearly 100 record albums. These were 331⁄3-rpm vinyl records. I opened the box because a friend of mine offered to convert the music to a digital format so I could play it using a CD player or iPod.
The music I discovered was mostly religious pieces from my youth. There were a capella chorales singing six- and eight-part harmony. Many of them were produced by artists that are largely unfamiliar to the present generation—artists such as Walter Arties, Paul Johnson, Derrick Johnson, Bill Barron, the Johnnie Mann Singers, Ralph Carmichael, and Mahalia Jackson, just to name a few. I also found orchestral arrangements of contemporary worship songs from the 1980s, and much more.
Listening to this music was like a breath of fresh air, a walk in the park on a sunny day. My spirits were lifted as the melodies danced around in my head and the rich, luscious harmonies reverberated throughout my very soul. To hear the inspirational sounds transformed my attitude and helped me deal with the day-to-day trials of life.
For me, these collector albums, rare music not readily available today, were a real treasure. And to think that it took 22 years for me to open the box and rediscover these gems! For 22 years I had deprived myself of the joy that these albums could have brought me. For 22 years I’d ignored the wonderful blessing that was right under my nose. But once I opened the treasure chest, everything changed.
Hidden beyond the glamour and glitter, the allurements and enticements of this world, is an invaluable gem that God has freely given. If we would dare to reach beyond our worldly ambitions and desires, if we would rid ourselves of life’s material trappings and distractions and seek Christ’s divine treasure, He will freely give it without cost.
More rewarding than anything we can imagine is the priceless gift of the kingdom of heaven reigning within our souls. Christ wants to reign within us, enabling us to live with joy and peace amid the sorrows and woes of this world.
As Christ reigns within us, we will discover life on a new level, knowing that His Spirit is ever present with us, guiding us through the day and helping us to share this precious gift with others. A gift that’s so invaluable it’s impossible to count the cost.
Christ says: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45, 46).

Carlos Medley is online editor of the Adventist Review.