Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Treasure, Triumph and Tragedy

He was a man possessed!

He was more than possessed, he was also obsessed - obsessed about a certain treasure - he knew existed and he knew he would have to find!!

He had read about it, dreamt about it, researched it endlessly - he knew the story inside out - buried deep in the steep mountainside of a raging river embankment near the Guaira falls smack bang on the Brazil- Paraguay border.

It was gold and precious stones - hidden originally by the Chaco Indians, the first inhabitants of Paraguay. The Chacos had hidden their treasures when they had been overtaken by the Spanish Conquistadors early in the 16th Century.

He knew the gold existed, many others had tried and failed - the very place where the gold was hidden was precarious to say the least - the Spanish knew about it and had tried various times over the centuries but had failed - the treasure moved in the myths and legends of times BUT he KNEW it existed - he had to get that treasure.

The treasure (if it existed) would be worth and veritable fortune on today's market BUT it was more than money that drove him on - his obsession was unquenchable - HE would go.

He expertly planned his trip. His equipment, was slowly starting to take shape. The maps of the area where he figured would most likely be the hiding place were read and read again until he practically knew each and every crevice, cave and hiding place on the walls of the treacherous falls.

The time had finally come! flying over Brazil and then Paraguay he could hardly contain his excitement, then the falls - he could see them - he could actually see them - but getting there?

He had pre-hired a scout and a guide to take him to the very spot he knew would hold the treasure.

Years in the planning and preparation were finally coming to fruition. The time had finally come to prove to himself and the world that the Chaco treasure was real.

Years in the planning and only a six month visa to find the treasure and get out - getting the visa was hard enough and it would be impossible to extend it so six months was it - that was all he had.

Arriving in Paraguay he wasted no time, contacted the guide, climbing experts and the porters, found the transportation, secured his special licence and he was off - He was so close he could practically 'taste' success.

The falls were breathtaking, magnificent, heart-stopping and at the same time alarming, intimidating and ever so scary!

All the walls were scraggy and slippery wet, hiding 100 of caves, nooks and crannies - seemingly impossible to descend at all. The noise of the falls was a crescendo of crashing water, shattering anything that came in its way. The boiling water at the foot of the drop was just a mass of turbulence - no-one and nothing could survive falling in there.

His rappelling skills were going to be put to the test here but again he wasted no time - the climbing experts set the ropes and pulleys, the porters and guides set up camp as he climbed into his safety gear and the first expedition was off.

The noise was deafening - his body was already at breaking point as he tentatively dropped over the edge - and so his exploration began.

One day melded into another - His search seem endless - he was physically and mentally exhausted. His porters left - His guide abandoned him and yet he continued - the climbing experts stayed with him, their techniques pushed to their limits as he kept going on his seemingly impossible quest.

Week after week, then month after month, he methodically explored every crevice, every cave. His money and the visa were quickly running out and so it was that almost at the end of his time he once more dragged himself to the edge of the crevasse and dropped over the edge - "Just one more time" he said to himself.

Ahead of him was a huge bolder sticking out of the wall of the canyon and he had to dodge around it struggling with the ropes as he did so. He was almost past the rock when he noticed a small, almost insignificant crevice - he stared, he backtracked with the tangled rope and swung himself into this hidden little nook far above the raging water.

The hidden little nook behind this huge bolder that had tangled his rope in the first place turned out to be a small, dank, dark cave - his flashlight on he started to explore, his hands searched the walls, pulling back chunks of loose rock. He had almost given up when his eyes caught sight of a small yet obvious alter - could it be??

Above the alter was what looked like a smooth rock - slimy and dank like the rest but somehow different. He quickly tugged at the stone and the slimy surface gave way to shiny gold - he was trembling in unbelief could it be? Could it be?

The rock gave way in his hands and he found himself holding  the image of a god around two ft long and quite heavy - it was obviously gold from what he could make out in the fading light. The sounds from outside came to his attention - the crashing water - the dank smell of the cave - the spray - light was fading fast he had to make a move - what else lay in this cave?

Two days to go before he had to leave Paraguay - two days?? - He made a decision - he wouldn't let go of this - he had to have it - he would come back tomorrow before he left.

Quickly he made his way out of the cave to the ropes and pulley - he signalled to the rappelling crew who were getting anxious due to the failing light. But one rope was hopelessly tangled around the bolder at the mouth of the cave. His Transmitter/Receiver on his helmet crackled and the voice said "We can do this with one rope but you will have to use both hands."

That would mean dropping the idol or leaving it in the cave - He couldn't!! "NOOOO" he screamed I can't leave this now! I can do this he said and holding the idol under one arm and holding the untangled rope with one hand he told the rappelling crew to pull him up.

They pleaded with him to drop whatever he was holding as his rescue depended on him holding the rope with two hands to avoid the 'swing effect'. He couldn't do it - he had waited too long, worked too hard to lose it now.

The rope tightened - he felt the tug as he was lifted - the extra weight of the idol and the swing effect due to the imbalance sent him wide over the canyon - he felt his hand slip slightly - "let go of whatever you are holding and use both hands" came the directive. NO came the reply as he slipped and screaming fell to his death in the rapids below.

His utter determination to hang on to that idol is absolutely nothing compared to the vice-like grip we put on life.

If you think that was a pretty tough - why didn't he just let go? Or put the idol away until it was safer? Then re-think your own life - I know I did.

Try prying your own fingers away from YOUR earthly treasures. Try taking a superannuation package away from a retiree or a wardrobe full of the latest fashion from your teenage daughter.

The way we clutch at our possessions and our bank accounts we would think that we couldn't possibly survive without all of these material things.

Paul spells it out pretty plainly in 1 Timothy 6: 9-12 "That the root of all kinds of evil is love of money and many who have desired it have wandered from the faith and opened themselves up to many griefs."

But it is more than money - we hang on to all sorts of 'toys' in our lives - anything that comes between us and God is our 'idol'. When you think about it our idols come in all sorts of various forms - pride, sex, self-centredness, greed, putting others in God's place - even gluttony, the love of food can become our idol.

Our forthright and obvious love of possessions stand out in the 'idol' category, and we can so cleverly make them so important in our own eyes. Ultimately all 'idols' whatever shape or form they come in is rebellion against God. Is it any wonder that God hates them?

We can hang on to our 'toys' but we will alienate ourselves from our Lord and God and alienation eventually spells eternal separation.

So.... How are you at clinging to your earthly possessions? or... HOW am I??? OUCH!!

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