Imagine finding something really special, something of such value that you just can’t imagine no one has scooped it up before now. It is like nothing you had ever seen. Maybe you recognize its worth immediately and look around to check if anyone else has seen it yet. If it’s on a shelf, maybe you push it toward the back or under other things to hide it. Or maybe you pick it up and carry it around for awhile to examine it. Do you try it out in the store, imagine it in your home, take photos, or proceed immediately to checkout?
Wondering if it’s just too good to be true, you ask yourself, Is is a fake? Doubts form. Surely you couldn’t imagine being able to have your hands on something so incredibly valuable! But you do your research, put it through the paces, and indeed, you authenticate this masterpiece you’ve found.
So now what do you do with it?
Most of you know I am a thrift store Church Girl and that consignment shopping is my jam. What you might NOT know is that I also frequent auctions in my little city and I seem to have a knack for sniffing out valuable things.
The thrill of encountering something amazing at an auction and having to wait to see if anyone else picked up on it is exciting to me. Waiting for my item to come up for bid–sometimes that means waiting for hours depending how large the auction is–and scanning the crowd to find who the first bidder or my competition will be gets my blood pumping. I also wonder which ones are the professional collectors and big city gallery owners.
As I have studied people at auctions, I have attempted to find a strategy by watching the pros. Here’s what I have learned thus far:
1. You can’t be too quick to be the first bid. (People will think there’s something valuable up for bid.)
2. Never take the auctioneer’s first amount unless it’s the “absolute low” bid, and even then, wait for it.
3. Sometimes the faster people are to bid, the more others are enticed into the competition. They might think that the item is of great value if others are bidding quickly. Or sometimes it is just to drive up the price. (I have actually heard and watched auction buyers do this to people–they bid quickly and drive up the price of something worthless just to get people going!)
At one particular local auction, there was a painting that totally captivated me. A winter landscape in watercolor, it had a perfectly square canvas (which I thought was unusual) and was in a relatively plain frame. Up close it was unimpressive, almost primitive, but standing back from it, I gasped at the masterful scene. Noting the signature and quickly searching online for the name, I found that I had encountered a piece from one of the first American Impressionist painters. He was originally from Illinois and painted on the East Coast in Mystic, Connecticut. How this little painting had found its way to Midwest “Forgottonia” is an absolute mystery to me.
What did I do? I strategically placed it behind a few other paintings. (Really–was I acting mature or what?) And then I waited. And waited. The air was hot and humid but I waited. Mosquitoes buzzed but I wasn’t leaving my post in view of all the paintings in case the auctioneer began the bidding without me. At one point, I radioed to my husband for water because I had sweat through my clothes and was feeling faint. He sent one of our kids to the rescue with some sweets and H2O for sustenance and company.
When the lead auctioneer pulled out my painting, I had already decided on my maximum bid. In my waiting time, I researched what other paintings of this artist had gone for at auction. One of his paintings sold recently for more than $12,000. Knowing I would never bid anywhere NEAR four or five figures, and also knowing there were gallery owners from big cities present, I hoped my husband wouldn’t kill me if the auctioneer got me to my maximum.
Bidding started at $20. I bit my tongue to keep my mouth shut and held my hand to my side. I was trying out the lessons I had been observing all day. No takers. The auctioneer didn’t know what he held in his hands. Apparently, neither did anyone else. He went down to $15. Waiting a little longer, I finally put up my hand and his assistant chimed,”Yup!” (Don’t laugh! This is really what they say.) Someone else took it to $20 and then $25 is where it stalled when the auctioneer said he would add in another painting, “at least for the frame” for thirty.
“Can I get a-thirty?”
I waited…seemingly forever…and then put up my hand, breathed, and nodded.
“Yup!” the assistant encouraged.
Would anyone bid any higher? I hoped I didn’t seem overeager! Would that give me away?
Other than the crackle of the speaker and the sound of the auctioneer’s voice, there were crickets.
“Going once…going twice…SOLD to that little lady over there!”
What? He was pointing at me!
I squeaked and jumped up and down on that oppressive afternoon, freed of the pressure that was released in the “win.” I could not believe it! The auctioneer even said something about how he had never seen someone so happy at an auction as me.
I could not believe I had just purchased an original American Impressionist painting for just $30. I was willing to pay so much higher than that. My husband wasn’t going to have to kill me after all…happy couldn’t begin to describe my ecstasy!
God’s Word says this:
“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.” (Matthew 13:44)
What would we do to know Jesus?
What would we do for OTHERS to know Him?
How much would you be willing to pay to know that your children or your parents would be in heaven with you?
Would we joyfully sell all we have to gain Christ?
What would we give up for ourselves in order for others to find salvation?
What do we do with our treasure, our faith in Jesus, and how do we respond?
Some people have no joy.
Some people hide it, afraid of others knowing they possess it.
Some people think it’s just for them and never share it.
Do you ever wonder what the man did with the treasure in the parable?
God’s Word doesn’t tell us but we can make some guesses.
He probably brought everyone in to show them his precious prize once the field was secure in his possession. Maybe he found reasons to bring people to see his amazing find, sharing it freely, wanting everyone to see and hear about the story, how he found this masterpiece. He celebrated finding it, and maybe in doing so, helped others to find their treasure, too.
We have been given the greatest treasure, one that millions upon millions of people prayed for, waited for, hoped for. In fact, there are millions who believe that they have to continue to pray, wait and hope for the salvation we have been freely given. And we have this gift to offer. Why do we keep it a secret? Why will we not wrap it up, present it beautifully, freely, with loving smiles on our faces, and hand it out like holiday candy? It’s way more important than a painting on a wall, or anything we can buy at an auction. It’s sweeter than any holiday candy. It’s the gift of eternal life.
How do you share your treasure? It doesn’t only have to be working for or serving the church. It can be in your workplace, your home, or among your friends and family members. How do you share Jesus?