Panning For Gold

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Wise May Bring Their Learning"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 119:11 – Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (KJV)

Psalm 119:105 – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (KJV)

In the movie The Hanging Tree, three men working an alluvial claim find no gold until a terrible storm knocks over a huge tree near to their site. In the hole left by the fallen tree and among its exposed roots, to their delight, they find nuggets caught up over the years, enough to keep them wealthy for life. Diggers call such a find a "glory hole".

All Christians should have their own such claim to mine every day. It is called by several different names, such as the Inner Chamber, the Quiet Time, the Place Apart, and the Morning Watch, to name but a few. It is that essential place where we meet with God on a one-to-one basis for prayer and sacred reading. And it is the most undisappointing claim, for more often than not, one strikes a glory hole. This is what William Cowper meant:

    Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
    It is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings;
    When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
    A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

The "surprise" might come from the passages of Scripture, or from one of the edifying Dailies or devotional books, or even the hymns that play softly as one reads. Suddenly, some great truth, or some wonderful reassurance, or some clear explanation appears on the page. Those are the purest nuggets for me "when comforts are declining" and I need "a season of clear shining" to cheer me on my way.

But devotional reading, like panning for alluvial gold, requires careful attention. It is not for speed readers who often boast of the many times they have read through the Bible. Each line one reads deserves to be comprehended and studied carefully, or the nuggets might be overlooked. For example, the first two chapters of Habakkuk might easily tempt one to read a bit faster, but suddenly, the last verse of chapter 2 is reassuring:

Habakkuk 2:20 – But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. (KJV)

It is a prelude to a prayer in Chapter 3 which is "set to wild enthusiasm and triumphal music." The entire chapter is a summary of the wonderful work of God, culminating in joyous anticipation of the future and one of the most reassuring passages in Scripture:

Habakkuk 3:17-19 – Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (KJV)

It is well worth a careful read. How joyfully ought such an assurance send us through the day!

My mother had a sign on the lid of a shoe box and pinned up in the kitchen. It read in bold letters:


Edwin Hodder sums it up in his hymn Thy Word is like a garden, Lord:

    Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
    Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.

Prayer: Gracious Father, grant us the grace to begin and end each day of our lives in loving fellowship with You. Give us divine discipline so to order our daily doings and necessities that nothing might encroach upon the times we devote to You each day. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Anton Stander

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Wonderful reminder Anton.

    Thank you Anton. I always learn something from your writings.

    How true, Ashton!

    Anton, this is very good. Thank you and may God continue to bless you and may you continue to share with us here.

    Anton, you might receive many emails today, thanking you for a deep and enlightening devotional, I am one of them.
    Thank you dear brother in Christ.

    Good morning, Anton: Thank you for today’s Devotional!
    Indeed God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path!
    Blessings in Christ.

    Dear Anton Stander,
    I rejoiced with the devotional today. At last I have a long-awaited appointment with a doctor!
    Keep writing.

    Good Morning:
    What a delightful reminder of the wonders of reading and “digging” into the Word first thing every day! My day just doesn’t go well till I get alone with the Word and have my quiet time alone with Him! Thank you for a beautiful devotional.

    Can’t put the words from William Cowper any better.
    I am presently sitting in the back (comfortable pew) of the church feeling
    a little bit sorry for myself as I have had a complete hip transplant recently, but am mouthing the words of all the anthems and singing loudly
    all the hymns as they lift my spirits.
    I will be back on duty soon and missing every minute.

    Anton – thank you for this wonderful message! The idea of “panning for gold” expressed exactly what I was contemplating this week after receiving an unusual blessing that reminded me of the riches that are found in God’s Word if only we take the time and effort to diligently search the Scriptures.
    Keep up the good writing!

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