The Map is Not the Treasure

My new boss got me interested in the television show, The Curse of Oak Island.  It is a “reality” show that combines myth, legend, some history and quite a bit of mystery.  It centers around finding a treasure that seems to always be just out of the reach of the treasure seekers.  Like most reality shows, there is a certain level of believe-ability and a certain amount of showmanship.  It’s just fun to kind of get lost in the “what ifs” of the treasure hunting journey.

It takes me back to my childhood.  Before the era of computers and video games, sometimes children just went outside to play.  My brother(s) and I would do what the brothers on the Treasure Island show did.  We would leave in the morning seeking treasure of unknown quantity and destination.   I remember one day we set off for the Lake.  We really didn’t know where the lake was or how far it was, but we strapped out fishing poles to our bicycles and headed out.  It was a good thing my mom came to rescue us because we were literally exhausted by the time we got there.  My own children went to explore a pond in the area of our  home only to come back with leaches all over their body.  What were we actually doing when we went treasure seeking?

In my mind, treasure seeking is discovering the unknown.  Someone outside our circle has given us a hint that something exciting or intriguing or better is out there somewhere.  In various ways, they give us a map to hopefully help find this treasure that we seek.  They draw a map because they have experienced it before us.  In a way, the Bible is a map of sorts to lead us to this destination and treasure that we are so curious about.  It names it as the Kingdom of Heaven with its main treasure being the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  The map even hints that this treasure is something we should sacrifice everything to find.  Everything in this map is pointing to the one thing, the treasure.  It’s not a handbook or a history book – it is full of poetry and word pictures and descriptions of past treasure seekers.  It progressively leads up to the revelation of when this treasure was observed—the one time when people saw it in person.  Then, the rest of the map tries to explain what they saw and how others can find it too.

In the Oak Island show, many different maps appear from all over the world.  These maps might be described as different accounts of where they think the treasure is and what is buried there.  When the brothers on the show investigate the different maps, they are not weighing them against one another—what they are doing is looking for similarities.  They often lay one map over the other to find out which points on the map are common to the other.  I think that is a great point to consider.   They don’t dismiss one map because it is slightly different, they look for things that match up and spend their time “digging” there!  But, even that is not the most important point.  To me, the most important point is:


Even though it seems silly for us to fall in love with a treasure map, many have made the Scriptures an idol to be worshiped instead of a treasure map to be used.   The treasure map of the Bible points us to Jesus, not the other way around.   The treasure map is not perfect–Jesus Christ, the true treasure, is!  It is a means to the end—not an end in itself.

But, let me push this just a little further.  May I suggest that sometimes we don’t even need the Bible (the treasure map) to find the treasure.  I know, right?  It sounds heretical because the map has often become the treasure.  But may I just investigate a couple of ways quickly that we find treasure without a map.  You probably could think of more.    The map is helpful to start us in the right direction, but then we often can effectively use other things to lead us to the treasure.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a guide.  I am very adventurous and love to discover things on my own, but usually before I head out to discover the new thing, I ask a couple of people that have been down that road before.  You see that in the Oak Island show and it ‘s true in life.  Paul needed Barnabus – Timothy need Paul – and, even Jesus, needed the Father and the Spirit and even his mother and teachers at times to tell him what they knew.  “What I’ve discovered to be true …” is one of sweetest sounds to me.  It means this is a possible way to interpret the map and an approach that someone has found success with – it’s experience.

Sometimes we stumble upon treasure.  Many times, my brothers and I went out without a plan.  We just went out open for adventure and finding what we hadn’t already experienced.  So, in a way, it’s the opposite of the previous point.  To me, this relates to my contemplative experiences when I am meditating and not really focusing on anything and I receive something that is truly a treasure – like a thought, or peace or confidence.  All these are treasures that I wasn’t specifically looking for but found none-the less.

I am a treasure seeker at heart.  I’m always looking for that which I have not yet discovered.  Sometimes that comes within the pages of Scripture.  In others words, I see something on the map I have never seen before.  But most often, it is the treasure that the map points to that is most worthy of my attention.  It is possible to fall in love with the map, but that’s not what treasure seeking is all about.  Guarding the map or guarding the treasure is the trap that all treasure hunters fall into.

What if we would stay excited about the treasure hunt- what if we stayed on the journey?



** Please feel free to like, forward or comment on this blog. Part of this is for me to just sort through my beliefs and feelings, but it would mean so much more to have your input. **


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  6 comments for “The Map is Not the Treasure

  1. March 18, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Wow another great eye opening thought that resonates so loudly for me… thanks Karl!


  2. March 18, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Yes! The map is not the treasure! Franciscans use the map of Creation. We don’t adore the cosmos or animals but we see the face of God in all that has been created!


  3. genek10
    March 31, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    Can two walk together: the Word and the Spirit? Jesus says yes. Can the Spirit alone please God? No. The Spirit teaches us obedience to the Word,
    John 14:23-26
    Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.


    • March 31, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      And the Word is Jesus, per the Bible, Jesus and the Spirit most definitely walk together.


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