Look around – your treasure may be closer than you think

Published 11:50 pm Friday, May 3, 2013

In November 1992, a tenant farmer named Peter Whatling from the town of Hoxne, England, lost his hammer in his field. So, he called his friend, Eric Lawes, who was a metal-detecting enthusiast, to help him find it.

Whatling didn’t want the hammer to damage his farm equipment during planting and harvesting. Lawes brought his metal detector to the field and started searching. To their surprise, Lawes found coins and other gold and silver objects. He immediately realized it was something valuable and reported the find to the Suffolk County Council, who owned the land.

The Suffolk Archaeological Unit carefully excavated the site and found 15,000 gold and silver coins, gold jewelry and many other small items such as silver tableware. The treasure trove had been buried in wooden chests that had rotted away. The coins dated back to 408 A.D.

Scholars determined it was probably hidden by the Roman Empire as their rule over Britain was deteriorating. The treasure was carefully buried suggesting that the owner intended to come back and recover it. By the way, they did find the hammer. It’s now on display in the British Museum alongside the treasure.

By law, the treasure became property of the British government. But, by law, the government was required to pay the farmer and his friend a sum equal to its full market value as a reward for their discovery.

Whatling and Lawes divided $3 million British pounds (U.S. $2.8 million)  Known as the Hoxne Hoard Treasure, it was reportedly the largest collection of gold and silver coins from the fourth and fifth centuries found anywhere in the Roman Empire.

But, the Hoxne Hoard Treasure is not the most valuable treasure!  How can one measure the value of having good health? If you are able-bodied ,and you have a job, you can earn a living.

If you are surrounded by a loving family and loyal friends, you are wealthy in the currency of caring. You and I tend to overlook the treasure all around us. Too often we take for granted our treasures because it becomes commonplace, buried in the busyness and hurry of life.

But the greatest and most valuable treasure each of us can possess is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We can experience the riches of His grace. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

It’s infinitely more valuable to possess a faith and hope that’s eternal, not of this world.  Jesus reminded us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:18 – 20)

Reformation leader Martin Luther once said, “I would not give one moment in heaven for all the joys and riches of the world.”


Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist.  Her email address is jwhite@andycable.com.