Keith Wishum: Standing on a gold mine

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2016

“There’s gold in them thar hills!”
In 1849, the cry rang out that gold had been discovered in the hills of California. The rush was on! Miners and prospectors flocked west to find their fortune.
Many of those who poured into the burgeoning shantytowns of California came from northern Georgia. It was there that the nation’s first gold rush had started in 1828. Thinking that the gold of Georgia had all been found, prospectors headed west where the grass looked more golden.
Yet, in 1903, more than 50 years after most others went west, miners at the Consolidated Gold Mine just outside Dahlonega, Georgia, hit the “Glory Hole.” This was a vein so rich that, in just one day, it produced 58 pounds of pure gold! At today’s prices, that’s over $750,000 worth of gold in just 24 hours.
It had been there all along. Prospectors combing the hills earlier had doubtlessly walked right over this literal gold mine, never suspecting the riches just a few feet beneath them. Countless miners moved away thinking the gold was elsewhere. They missed a golden opportunity to strike it rich right where they were.
So it is with us and happiness. It is more precious to us than gold. We know its value and we search for it. But too often we rush off to where someone has shouted, “I found it” without realizing that happiness lies right at our feet.
The apostle Paul once made a startling statement. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,” he wrote (Philippians 4:12). It’s not the place or the circumstances that determine whether we are happy. It’s we who decide that.
Did Paul know what he was talking about? Apparently his secret worked for him. He was sitting in prison facing possible execution when he wrote those words. And he speaks more of joy and rejoicing in that letter than in any other he wrote. He really was content right where he was, in spite of the difficulties.
Good news: Paul didn’t bury his secret. If we’ll look closely, he uncovered for us a gold mine of guidance on how we can be happy right where we are. His secret of contentment can be ours if we’ll stake our claim to it.
There really is gold, not in some faraway hill, but in this one where you are already standing.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.