Crying, I stood alone in the far, dead-end room of the hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
I wasn’t sad. And I was honestly very glad I was alone in that moment.
You may think I’m crazy, but I was actually crying over the rocks. More specifically, I was crying thankful tears that God created rocks.
My admiration for rocks began when I was very young. Whenever my siblings and I had the chance to go to my grandparent’s house, we would go out back to their rock garden at the end of the day and pick out one rock to take home with us. It was the best thing ever. One of my favorites that I brought home with me was a piece of sheer black obsidian. I can remember my grandad telling us how Native Americans used obsidian to make arrowheads. I loved that it was so shiny and smooth. It was a piece of treasure to a five year old. But back inside the house was the real treasure. Behind the glass cabinets lined up along the wall in their living room were hundreds of the most beautiful gemstones and minerals you have ever seen: Amethyst, agate, tourmaline, labradorite, amber, topaz, opal, quartz crystal, and so many more.
My grandad calls himself an amateur rock hunter. He and my grandmother would go rock hunting every summer and visit the national parks with their two kids. Fast forward to the summer of my 13th birthday, my mom decided to pack up all of the kids (that’s 8 of us) into the camper and go out west with my grandparents just like they did when she was a child.
We were gone a total of ten weeks. We hit as many states and national parks as we could and, of course, we went rock hunting. One of the most memorable rock hunting sites was the quartz crystal mine in Arkansas. The dig site was seriously just a big pile of left over dirt from the actual mine. But my goodness, did we love getting to dig in that dirt. We spent multiple hours on our hands and knees, covered in mud, searching for hidden treasure.
There is a story in the Bible about hidden treasure: how a man who finds it will sell all of his possessions in order to buy the field where he found it. There is also a verse in the book of Isaiah that talks about a hidden treasure that is found in secret places:
“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3
God stores treasures for us in secret places. I believe this verse is talking about hidden treasures of the heart; spiritual treasures. The kind we get to take to heaven with us. But I also interpret it literally. The following verse is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible and provides context for why I think He is talking about physical treasure as well:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
God reveals Himself to us through what He created. And here’s the thing that I just love: He has hidden aspects of Himself in the earth, in nature, for us to find. I want you to take a moment and ponder this question; why would He create exquisite, colorful, and exciting pieces of artwork (rocks) and then hide them deep in the ground?
Have you done your pondering? Okay, now you can move on.
I believe it was to show us that He is fun. He’s like a great dad setting up the most epic treasure hunt in his backyard. I believe it also shows us that He is thoughtful, beautiful, detail-oriented, and rewards those who work hard. Maybe you thought of something entirely different and that is wonderful. We all have a unique experience with God. Ultimately, the answer is because He loves us. And He shows us He loves us in so many ways! Next time you see a brilliant golden sunset, I hope you wonder about Him. I hope you listen with your heart to hear what He is saying by painting the sky for you to enjoy.
I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced the love of God by simply appreciating the beautiful world in which we get to live. But it hasn’t always been this way for me. I’ve had to learn how to see this kind of beauty. Out of necessity, because life is too hard without it, I’ve trained my heart and mind to tune in to gratitude. I believe thankfulness opens the doors to His Presence. But I should warn you; experiencing the glory of God in the clarity of diamond or deep in the woods or diving into the ocean most likely won’t happen on its own. Here’s the thing; you have to look for Him. You have to ask Him to make Himself known to you. And He will. If He doesn’t, keep asking. Don’t give up. Remember that the treasure is hidden. Keep looking.
So, why was I crying in the Museum of Natural History? First of all, it reminded me of Grandad. It reminded me of his enthusiasm and love of nature, and how he taught me to see the earth through the eyes of gratitude and to be excited about what I saw. And also because I had a revelation of the One who put each gemstone in their place.
I found God in the rocks. I saw Him in the way He crafted each kind. He put thought into color, shape, hardness, clarity, and location. He knew what kind of pressure was needed to form the diamond. And He was aware of the perfect temperature and pattern the molecules needed to become crystals.
That is why I was overwhelmed as I walked through the halls of the Smithsonian. I saw all of these beautiful rocks, each one hand-crafted by the Creator, from every part of the world, and I realized He put each one in its place for a purpose. Hidden at first – waiting to be found – then revealed to the world on display.