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The Gold Mine
What Would You Do?
By Deane Addison Knapp
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Deane Addison Knapp
All rights reserved.
The years had been hard. The digging had been hard. But every time a vein of a few inches had shown up, it whetted the appetite. It hoped of much, much more. The potential was for much, much more. It just took digging, and lots of it.
Juan was digging in California, in a mine that had been started by a distant relative long ago. The person had died in the mine and a long line of relatives had passed on it, as an inheritance, until Juan. He decided he could work hard, since there was the potential for gold, even though the curse on the mine, because of the death, was there, too.
Day after day, year after year he would leave his small ranch and walk up into the hills to his mine. His faithful wife and five children would be there every evening when he came back, eager to see if there was a smile on his face, a smile that spoke more of gold than potential.
They all knew of the curse, but did not think about it. If the curse became a reality before the potential did, all would be lost. Possibly a life, the meager ranch, and all of the potential their lives were holding onto. Juan was brave, Juan was courageous, and Juan was patient and persistent, but only God knew the future. Would God bless with untold riches, or would he bless with disaster, in order to make them stronger, more able to trust Him in life? These were his thoughts.
Every day Juan would ask himself these questions. He would say a prayer each morning before entering the mine. Safety for his family, safety for himself, and a rich reward for his hard work, with the exception of His will for their lives, no matter what, as Jesus had prayed.
Not knowing the future gave Juan a fifty/fifty chance. If disaster was coming... well, he refused to think about it. In his mind, seeing disaster as a blessing did not ever work. But, that was God's business, not his. His was to dig. Dig and simply believe. After all, God knew what He was doing.
And so he would dig and pray. Pray and dig. He did not want to artificially influence God toward the blessing of riches if he and his family were not ready to handle it. God saw through things like that. On the other hand he did not want to be behind in asking. Jesus said whatever Juan asked according to His will would be granted him.
Every time Juan would find a small vein, enough to live on for a month or two, he would be thankful, appropriately so, for the blessing. But he would wonder if the other side of the equation would be next. With a fifty/fifty chance, you couldn't have blessing piled upon blessing without disaster mounting up. Should he quit while he was ahead and find other work, or were true riches just beyond where he was? The blessing of riches took hard work; the blessing of disaster struck suddenly with unknown consequences. Juan did not understand that part. But that was God's business. His was to accept, and say thank you.
What about the curse? How did that fit in? Was the curse under God's overall authority? Did the blessings of riches just enrage the curse and make it stronger? Did the curse join with God's blessing of disaster when hardship was called for in Juan's life?
What hard decisions God had to make. Just believe, Juan. Just believe.CHAPTER 2
One day Juan was digging fifty feet in, at the end of the mine, and his pick hit the rock with a slightly different sound. He stopped and put down his pick. That was the sound he was always listening for.
In the light of his lantern, Juan picked up his small shovel and carefully wiggled it into the cracked rocks and pried gently. The rock crumbled and fell to the ground. He saw gold.
Not knowing if it was a small vein or a larger one, he controlled his excitement. If he got too excited, more than his love for God excited him, God could instantly make the vein smaller. From experience, Juan knew that his love for God was more important to God, than Juan's need for gold. He carefully reached down for his lantern and held it up to the shiny area. It was gold. He had hit gold.
The area Juan had uncovered looked very promising. But he held his emotions in check and began to express thanksgiving to God for answering his prayers. He was safe, hopefully his family was safe, and God had rewarded his hard work. Juan desperately wanted to chip another shovelful away from the area, but he quickly repressed the thought and forced his mind to recount whatever else had happened that he could say "thank you" for.
Juan had to be careful, this was serious business. God could increase or decrease the size of the find according to how Juan acted. Better to go slowly and show the wisdom he had amassed over the years of near fruitless digging. Whatever happened, it would be an expression of God's love for him; Juan knew this. But the fact that he was tired of working hard for very little reward kept wanting to surface, and he could not let it. One wrong move at this junction could mean years of more hard work.
Juan took a deep breath and, staring at the gold, began trying to recall if he had not forgiven anyone, sincerely from his heart. "Lord," he said out loud, "I really want to do this right. You know my heart and what I am capable of doing wrong. I submit my will to you, and thankfully receive from your hand whatever you decide." Okay so far; the gold was still there, looking better than ever.
Juan decided to sit down on his small stool. He put the lantern on the ground. It still showed off some of the gleam of the gold. He decided to just sit and enjoy the moment. He was at the tipping point, rich reward or hard work. Not knowing was not a bad place. It still had hope, still had faith, it still had potential. He wanted to rest for a while, in the realm of faith, before reality hit.
As he sat, he began to wonder how long he could balance at this spot. Could he hold off untold riches or more hard work, whichever it was, to give himself time to go over his life and make amends?
It would be trying to influence God's decision, but not for greed. He wanted his family to prosper. They depended on him and could not provide wealth for themselves. He could. That is, God could. And oh, the proud feelings his family would have for him if he produced. They deserved that, even though he didn't. Every family needs a time to be proud of their father and husband.
Juan focused on the gold again. It was still there.
Juan's feelings tried to erupt again. He caught them and gathered them in. Yelling and screaming and jumping for joy would definitely not be the thing to do until the facts were fully known. Then God couldn't change things without it being a visible miracle.
What if he just left it, and went home, unexcited, and proved to God and everyone, he was ready? He was ready to handle riches, without his love and commitment for God dwindling. Or, what if he just stayed here and sat on his stool, keeping an eye on his find? His wife would finally come to find out why he was late and she could bring him back some food. Or, what if he just busted out all over, yelling and screaming down to the house and into town to the bar and got drunk with celebration?
What would happen depended on what he did.CHAPTER 3
Juan approached the little ranch slowly. He walked up onto the porch carefully, keeping his emotions corralled and his mind busy. What else could he be thankful for, and what else needed to be forgiven?
The trouble was, he would be thankful and then forget and naturally start grumbling about things, especially how hard his work was. He would forgive, from the heart, and then later remember the hurt and think badly about someone again. It was a difficult maneuver to constantly check what he was thinking and feeling, and try to correct it. And God was always watching, because he never slept. Not that God was mean, He just knew what was best for him and his family. Juan's job was to yield to His will no matter what, as Jesus had done.
"Hi Honey, how is everyone?" Juan was a little more self-assured than usual because he had seen gold with his own eyes.
"We're all good, my dear husband; you ... look like you have something on your mind, how did today go?" Bernice could read him like a book.
"My day went well as usual, with a small exception on the good side." Juan began. Bernice had kissed him on the cheek while wiping a plate with a dish cloth. She stopped wiping as he continued, "I'd like to go into town tomorrow, just you and me. Do you think we could do that?"
Bernice finished with the plate and put it away, hung the dish cloth on the rack, and wiped her hands on her apron. "Yes, that would be fun. What would we do?"
"Oh, I have a number of things in mind, so we might as well start early. Can the kids be alone for the day?
"Yes, they will be fine. I'll go get them into bed, and you eat your dinner. Then we'll read them a story and tell them about tomorrow together." Bernice knew something was up, but did not want to spoil her husband's plans by asking too many questions.
So far, so good; faith was being assured without seeing. Juan had seen, but only partially. Believing God for His blessing, riches or more labor, which ever it would turn out to be, was still faith, because he wisely had not uncovered any more of the find. This walking with God was a delicate walk of balance, but so far he had not fallen, and faith is what pleases God.
Dinner, a story, then family prayers and kisses took place. Tomorrow they would bring home something special for the kids. "Remember your chores and remember God is always watching and protecting. We'll be home for dinner. Good night my dear children."
The little ranch was at peace through the night. Juan fell asleep wondering if anything was happening up at the end of the mine.CHAPTER 4
Morning came with sunshine. Juan and Bernice dressed, ate breakfast, and readied the horse and buggy. They went back in and kissed the children and left a note of instruction. As they were leaving, Juan stopped in the kitchen and took the savings can off the top shelf. He emptied it all into a small leather pouch. Bernice just watched in case there might be an explanation. Juan, she could see had plans.
On the trip into town, Juan began mapping out what he wanted to do.
"I want to stop at the Caldwell's and see how John's wife's recovery is going. Then stop at the church and put two dollars in the poor box."
About an hour later, when those two things were checked off to Juan's satisfaction, they moved up the street to the General Store. First thing Juan did was pay off their debt. He put ten dollars extra on the account, and then they shopped a bit.
Bernice knew something was up but resigned herself to enjoying shopping as if paying for it was not her concern. She would believe in her husband, he would sense it, and be proud that he was doing his job. Reality would have to wait, along with her plans for the savings.
They had lunch in the hotel's dining room. This was only the third time in their twelve years of marriage that they had dined out. It was heavenly not to cook and not to clean up, but it cost five dollars because they had dessert also.
The buggy got dropped off at the livery stable and had a thorough going over by the attendant, and the horse got new shoes. Meanwhile, Juan took Bernice's hand and strolled up the street to the assayer's office to make a personal, private appointment two days hence. Then the bank, where Juan and Bernice opened an account with five dollars, half of what remained in the pouch.
Money for birthdays, Christmas, and winter food was now gone. Bernice wondered and hoped, and believed in her husband; she decided to help make this the best day possible. It might not happen again for a while. Unless...no stop...no unless. Her hopes couldn't handle another rising and abrupt fall. Her desires had been dashed too many times. But she was thankful it was getting easier to submit her will to the will of God. She had very little will left.
Bernice clung to her husband's arm and went with him into the hardware store. Juan bought new tools, one for each of the children, to brighten their thoughts about working around the ranch. He was a loving father, a good father, and she was blessed to have him.
They picked up the buggy and horse, and had a couple bales of hay loaded. Juan gave the last fifty cents to the attendant as a tip. The trip home was peaceful, for Juan. He had accomplished all he wanted to do. Bernice was simply there, as his wife, his dear wife.
As soon as they got home, Juan laid out the new tools. Each child was given the appropriate one. They marveled at them and put them in their right place for tomorrow's work. The two older ones took care of the horse and buggy and hay. The younger ones showed their mom what they were preparing for dinner. As life returned to normal after the trip into town and a wonderful dinner, Juan pulled out candy and new reading books and settled the children down.
Then he said to Bernice, "Walk up to the mine with me. We still have an hour of daylight left."
She changed into her walking shoes, grasped her husband's arm and off they went.CHAPTER 5
Juan took each step with peace. He had addressed each accusation in his mind and now approached the mine with confidence. He would be able to face whatever was there, knowing he had done everything required of him, that is, at least everything that had come to mind.
At the entrance to the mine he stopped and addressed Bernice. "Honey, I want to show you what I found yesterday."
"Tell me about it first, dear." Bernice had to have her heart prepared. She could not over guess, it would be a nightmare.
"No, my love, just come see." Juan picked up the lantern, lit it and proceeded into the mine followed by his wife. Even at this point, he could not describe to her what he had found. It might have changed. He would let her see it as he had seen it, then they could go from there. This delicate balance of walking with God was his gift to his wife and his family. God would be pleased; not impressed, but pleased. He was walking by faith, not by sight.
The silence of the mine, with only the echo of their footsteps was eerie to Bernice. She was not used to it. It had an odd chill, too, but they continued and Juan slowed as they came to the end of his digging. He raised the lantern and drew his wife to his side.
The brilliant gleam of the gold he had uncovered yesterday was still there. But something was different. Some more rock had fallen off, and more gold showed. Juan stared and was stunned. He had carefully walked the right course in his thinking, saying, and doing, and God had rewarded him. The hand of God had uncovered more gold. "Do you see it, my dear wife?"
"Yes, my dear husband. I see beautiful shiny gold. Tell me about what I am seeing!"
Juan felt for the stool with his foot and sat his wife down on it. "This is more than I saw yesterday. The hand of God has taken away more rock. He has smiled at our humble approach to his blessing and revealed more. It is so beautiful."
"Yes. It is very beautiful. Shall we pick at it some more? It looks like it continues."
"No! We must not. He has rewarded us for our submission to his overall will and our greater love for him than for riches. We must not turn aside from that, but continue on. Do you understand my dear wife? When we act according to His will He rewards us. We do not want to fall off one way or the other."
Bernice looked at her husband. He knew God so well. Juan was a gift from God to her. Now her husband had been given a gift for all his hard work, and for the effect it had worked in his heart over the years. "I wonder how far it goes?"
"It goes as far as He chooses to enrich us. It is His plan, His will, not ours." Juan felt like just staying and watching it all night. Oh, to see another chunk of rock fall away without his hand doing it. Suddenly he felt like he was leaning too far to one side. "Come my love. What we can see with our eyes will not disappear. We will come back tomorrow and see what else God has done."CHAPTER 6
The wonderful sleep Bernice and Juan both had, they were convinced, was God's favor. It was undeserved of course, although it wouldn't have come without their delicately balanced walk. They breakfasted together as a family and then, as the children attended to their chores, Bernice and Juan headed for the mine.
It was hard not to go fast, but they busied themselves with reciting memorized Bible verses. It calmed them to know that what they had seen yesterday could not be taken away.
Excerpted from The Gold Mine by Deane Addison Knapp. Copyright © 2014 Deane Addison Knapp. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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