We took about fifteen minutes to hear from the Lord and then reconvened to discuss what each of us had received. The names I received were Chris, Walter and Ted. The appearances were jeans with a tear in the knee, loose untied shoe strings, lightning bolts and blue Slurpee. The needs I heard were "break up" and "balance". The "other" miscellaneous category had the words baked goods, paper/toy plane, clocks, scented candles and guitar. I explained to the group the 80/20 rule - eighty percent of what we received could be dead-on and twenty percent garbage, or the reverse, but in either case the point of the exercise and ministry is to grow in our walk with the Lord by faith.
Earlier in the morning, I felt the Lord saying to me that we were to go to Target, so after we each shared our words we hopped in our cars and headed there. Next to our local Target there is a guitar store, so having the word "guitar" I decided to go there first. Now you can imagine, the nervousness I felt walking into a store with the hopes of meeting someone that God wants me to interact with and love on. My fleeting thoughts of insanity were one by one offered up to Jesus.
I walked into the store, greeted the teenager at the front desk and began walking into my mission field. I had to look out of place as I starred up on the walls at all the guitars like a young boy on his first trip to a big city looking around at all the skyscrapers. As I walked around the store I was praying under my breath - "Lord, please guide me to the person you want me to meet."
I turned the corner and there he was. A man in his late 40's or 50's was seated on a bench in one of the aisles strumming on a guitar. He had on a yellow, dirty sweatshirt and wore jeans with a hole in the right knee. "Oh my" I thought to myself, "He's it." Now what, Lord? I sat down next to the man and started to chat with him. "Do you play?" he asked. "No, not really." I asked him the same question to which he replied, "I'm no good" -words that may have spoken more of his self-worth than his ability to play the guitar.
I sat down with him and patiently listened to him as he bent over the guitar almost in a fetal position, head down draped over the side of the instrument. He was a one man show and I was a one man audience. As I sat there listening to this man strum his guitar I began to think to myself, "This is God's treasure?" I mean think about it, here is this random man, in the middle of the day, sitting in a guitar store playing music by himself. His clothes looked like they hadn't been cleaned in...well, maybe never, his face was scruffy with untrimmed facial hair and his eyes were gazed.
Yet, I was convinced that God had this man on His heart so much that He would send me out to find him and minister to him. Is that incredible or what? It makes me think of the story in Acts 8:29 when "the spirit said to Philip, 'Go near, and join yourself to this chariot'". Philip obeyed the word of the Lord and met the Ethiopian Eunice who "just happened" to be reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. God had that man in mind. He was God's treasure, or better yet his "Target".
After a few rounds of jamming, I offered to pray for my new friend. He bowed his head down reverently as I spoke a blessing over his life. He lifted his head back up to thank me and went back to strumming his guitar. After ministering the love of God to this man, I walked away with a stronger sense of confidence to talk to more people. I stopped briefly to talk to the teenager at the front desk who I found out was raised Buddist and never heard the gospel, which I graciously shared with him. I was then off to Target to look for more of God's treasures.
Walking into Target I headed directly to the Slurpee machine up front, but found no treasures awaiting me there so I decided to head towards the baked good section instead. On my way there I ran into Carol, another treasure hunter, who looked more like a casual shopper with a basket in hand. "We decided to pick these up and do some shopping to look less conspicious." Good idea. I got my own basket and headed to my next destination.
When I arrived, I found only one man stocking shelves with a new brand of tantelizing Oreo cookies. I struck up a conversation with him about the cookies he was putting in place and noticed a crucifix dangling from a gold chain around his neck. "I like your cross." I said, pointing to the jewelry. "Do you go to church somewhere?" This simple question opened up a dialogue between us about life and spiritual things where I learned that "Craig" was a father of three children who hadn't visited a church in years and didn't know anyone who was praying for him. So I volunteered to do so and prayed for his life and family to have peace and "balance".
As I left the baking section with a box of those delicious Oreos in my basket I glanced down to my white sheet looking for my next clue. I gazed upon the words "lighting bolts" wondering what this clue could mean. I got it! God wanted me to go to the section of the store that sold light bulbs and other lighting products. So with the guidance of a friendly Target worker I was headed to my next treasure spot, the lighting department.
At the lighting department I met another man stocking shelves. Again after striking up a random conversation about flouresent lighting, I began to converse with this "retired" man. He couldn't stand sitting at home so he got himself a job stocking shelves at Target. "It gets me out of the house." It got me thinking of how God's purposes in our lives are by no means limited to the prime years we spend in the workforce. God wants to use us all the days of our life.
We had a good conversation, this time about grandchildren, life after work, the state of our nation, the direction of our society and the need for trust in God. I also sensed that this man had been burnt by the church, either personally, or through the scandals that had taken place over the years. I explained to him that we need to be careful not to confuse "religion" or sinful people with God himself. He concurred with that idea, maybe the seed God wanted to plant in his heart. I prayed that God would reveal himself to this man and also lifted up his grandchildren and wife in my prayers.
My time was running out before I had to meet back up with the other treasure hunters, so I glanced quickly down at my sheet and out jumped the word, "clock". With that clue, I headed over toward the electronic section looking for clocks. I was greeted by a larger than life clock and then greeted by a young 20-something kid and a friendly, "Can I help you with something?". I looked down at his badge and saw the name, Chris, which was on my list of clues.
Chris and I spoke about the new flat screen TVs in his section. He was knowledgable about these devices and their quality. I was only thinking in my mind, "God loves this kid so much". So when he took a breath, I explained to him my treasure hunt and showed him his name on my paper. Chris looked surprised, in a good way, and shared with me that he does go to church, although he couldn't remember the name of the place he attended. I sensed he had a real tender heart towards the Lord and he was more than happy to receive my prayers for his life and future. Chris thanked me for the prayers, I gave him some encouraging words. I looked down at my watch and realized it was time to head back and meet up with the other treasure hunters for a wrap up conversation.
Since that day at Target, I have become more aware of God's great love for humanity and more sensitive to His leading and guiding. I have come across more than one person who I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had led me to speak with and minister to. I'm growing in my understanding of just how much God loves each and every one of us and how willing He is to go out of His way to meet us where we are at. In fact, His love is so great that He was willing to leave the comfort and joy of heaven to seek and save those who were lost. Now that's one great love! (John 3:16)
As you go about your day, to the Supermarket, the gas station, to work or even the hair salon, I pray you will realize that all around you are treasures - people who God dearly loves and wants to reach with the gospel. Take some time out of your day and speak to one of those treasures and meet the need they have or offer to pray with them. You will find that finding a treasure from God is more valuable and joy giving than a pot of gold. And never forget, you are one of those treasures! Amen.