By Michael J. Klassen
On February 17, 1941, the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed about 300 miles off the coast of Ireland by a German submarine. The 1919 British cargo ship was carrying tea, pig iron, and 219 tons of silver ingots. Why a steamship would be transporting so much silver in time of war is unknown.
But four days ago, Odyssey Marine Exploration announced the discovery of the SS Gairsoppa under more than 14,000 feet of water. If you followed the remedial math track in school, that amounts to over two-and-a-half miles of water.
Recovery operations will begin next summer, with Odyssey Marine keeping 80% of the spoils and the British government keeping 20%. The silver alone is worth $210 million. That means Odyssey Marine walks away with a cool $168 million in silver. Talk about a great stimulus package!
Few professions carry as much fascination among the general public as searching for buried treasure. The epic motion picture Titanic began its story with the discovery of the legendary vessel off the coast of Newfoundland.
Growing up, I relished searching for buried treasure whenever our family made excursions into the mountains or to the beach.
What we consider our treasure reveals a great deal about our hearts. Jesus said,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21, NIV)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Ouch!
If you want to take a quick inventory of your heart, just look for where you keep your treasure. Which begs the question, How do I spend my time and my money? As a recovering workaholic, this hits a little close to home.
Lawrence of Rome (c. 225 – 258) was an early martyr of the Christian church. Legend tells us that the Roman Emperor Valerian believed that the Christian church was fabulously wealthy. Seeking to confiscate their assets, he commanded the respected deacon to return to him in three days with the treasures of the Church.
When the Roman Emperor demanded to see the treasure, Lawrence led him to a courtyard where there was assembled a great crowd of poor, blind and crippled people. Lawrence gestured toward the crowd and announced, “Behold, the treasure of the church.”
For this act, Lawrence was burned to death.
What if the real treasure we have in heaven is not money or our “good deeds” but each other? What if the greatest investment we can make resides in people—not just the people who make us feel good about ourselves, but everyone?
While searching for buried treasure in the sea appeals to our more romantic and adventurous interests, it’s a waste of time and energy compared to the investment we can make in people and relationships.
Not everyone can afford to spend their lives searching for buried treasure, but everyone can invest their time and energy in building relationships.
Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado. He enjoys spending his spare time with his beautiful wife Kelley and his equally beautiful daughters Anna, Allie, and Marina.