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‘The treasure has been found’: What Forrest Fenn’s poetic treasure map tells us about the kingdom of God

Blake Atwood is the Brand Director for the Denison Forum.

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‘The treasure has been found’: What Forrest Fenn’s poetic treasure map tells us about the kingdom of God
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British poet Robert Graves once wrote, “There’s no money in poetry, but, then, there’s no poetry in money, either.”

At least one poetry reader no longer believes that statement.

A decade ago, millionaire archaeologist and entrepreneur Forrest Fenn penned a poem to lead curious seekers to a $2 million treasure chest filled with gold nuggets and precious gems he’d hidden in the Rocky Mountains. 

Fenn published the poem in his book, The Thrill of the Chase. Fenn estimated that 350,000 have attempted to find the treasure. Four people have died as a result of the hunt, including a Colorado pastor.

Why did Fenn hide his treasure and publish a poem that would perplex so many for so long? 

According to the New York Times, “he wanted to give families a reason to ‘get off their couches.’”

In 2012, Dr. Denison wrote about Fenn’s treasure hunt in “How to make a million dollars in a week.”

Last week, someone did.

On June 6, 2020, Fenn reported, “The treasure has been found. It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago. I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot.”

The one who found the treasure wished to remain nameless. He verified his findings via a photo sent to Fenn.

What does it cost to follow God?

The man should be applauded for finding such a well-hidden trove. 

Whether it was intelligence, intuition, luck, providence, or some amalgamation, he sought and found a great treasure. But we currently do not know what he had to sacrifice in order to do so.

How long did his search take? Was it weeks or years?

Did he suffer scratches or falls or other hardships on the mountain?

Was he a curious seeker or an ardent searcher?

What did he give up in order to seek such gain?

As Christians, to seek and find our greatest treasure requires something simple of us, yet its demands are immense.

In Jeremiah 29:13, God tells the exiled Jews that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (emphasis added).

In Mark 12:30, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (emphasis added).

In the Sermon on the Mount, after warning his listeners not to “lay up treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), Jesus encourages them to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33, emphasis added).

Seek with all your heart. Love with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Seek first.

The price to follow God is high. 

Yet do our lives reveal that cost?

The not-so-hidden treasure map in the Bible

In one of Jesus’ shortest parables, he compares the kingdom of heaven to “treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

Have you ever noticed how Jesus’ parables rarely incorporate question marks and yet, for those with ears to hear, they always challenge us to ask questions of ourselves?

For instance, the fact that the man “sells all that he has” demands that we ask: 

  • How much am I willing to sacrifice for the kingdom of God? 
  • Do I truly believe that his kingdom is invaluable? 
  • Do my actions reveal that following God is worth whatever sacrifice it requires?

Note also that the man in the parable sold everything he had “in his joy.” The unnamed man who solved the riddle of Fenn’s poem must be joyful today as well. He’s rich, after all. 

But unless he knows the One who created the mountains in which he found but trinkets, his richness will only last a lifetime.

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