Know Your Gold
There’s gold in Mongolia. When I was living there from 2009-2012, a gold rush was underway similar to what happened in the American West in the mid-1800s. Mongolians young and old were leaving their homes and families to spend their days digging arduously in the dirt in hopes of finding the precious material. We would sometimes pass through their makeshift encampments as we traveled to far-flung places in pursuit of our own goal, to bring hope and help to those that needed it most.
I loved those epic trips through the vast Mongolian landscape, and I also loved the entrepreneurial work in which I was engaged. My job was to develop humanitarian programs on behalf of a large Christian organization, and things were going well. We were doubling the size of our operations every year. So when I got the call from HQ on year three, it was the last thing I expected to hear. I was told organizational imperatives had shifted, and that I needed to shut things down. Wait, what??? Are you kidding? When it finally began to sink in (after some kicking and screaming), I was devastated. The decision from leadership also left me with some existential questions like, what on earth had I been doing for the past three years? Why did my family have to experience such transition and difficulty for what felt like a fool’s errand, and most importantly, where was God in all this?
In that dark period of questioning, 1st Corinthians chapter 3 spoke to me in a new and powerful way (some call it the “Three Little Pigs” passage). Paul cautions builders in God’s kingdom to pay close attention to how we’re building because sooner or later our work will be tested (not by wolves) by fire. Only that which is truly valuable – the gold – will pass through the flames. Now I’m certain that much of what I did in Mongolia was not much more than a pile of dirt and ash in the light of eternity. But I’m also convinced that God in his graciousness allowed me to dig out some of the good stuff and to leave it as an offering to him in that beautiful and desolate land. I think the relationships and investment in staff as well as the good works among the most vulnerable might just qualify as gold.
So, do you have a clear sense of what your gold is? How focused are you in pursuing it in the midst of COVID-19, or are you getting distracted by other shiny objects in the sand? How might you better mine for gold in the coming days?