Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 18, 2012

He always sees treasure

Returning home from a Thanksgiving road trip, my wife was reviewing vocabulary words with my 14 year-old son.  “Obsolete”, my wife called out.  My son responded, “No longer of any use.”  His response struck me.  “There has to be more to that definition”, I thought to myself.  But lacking access at that very moment to a source that could confirm it, my mind began to process his response.

Working in a technology field has put that word into a specific context for me.  And the seemingly curt and strong definition certainly fits.  It doesn’t seem to take long for a physical piece of equipment or a way of doing things to be replaced by something new, rendering the old as no longer of any real use.  But is that factual and defensible, or have we just judged it to be true?  I believe it is far more the latter.

I further believe that there are people who may feel judged in that way … maybe even you.  People whose character or talents seem to no longer “fit” where they are plugged in, and who feel marginalized by the pace and practice of a world that is ever-changing.   A person who was not long ago right in the middle of the prevailing current, but who now feels like they do nothing other than swim against it.

If either you or someone you know is feeling obsolete, I offer this story in illustration of a great truth about our Creator.  A few years ago my wife and I had a garage sale.  It was held on one of the two weekends a year that our city hosts a “city-wide garage sale”.  It’s a great time to have a sale, on the account of the guaranteed large audience.  It’s also a great time to walk around.  Which is exactly what my wife did mid-afternoon as our sale was winding down.

She wasn’t gone long, and as she walked up the driveway her joy was unmistakable.  She had walked a several block radius, but found her single treasure just two houses from our own.  And she couldn’t wait to share the news of her incredible find.  As she pulled it out from behind her back, it was instantly recognizable … a Texas Instruments Little Professor calculator.  You probably know the one.  The mustard yellow plastic, old school calculator LED display, distinguished gentleman with glasses and a white mustache reading a book, one.  She had that same calculator as a young girl, and wore it out.  What was lost had been found again!  She could not contain her joy.  Fifty cents had never made her so happy, and she was on a mission to find a 9-volt battery.

In the moment of personalizing the otherwise technical word, my mind recalled that scene as vividly as the day it happened.  And a profound truth about the God who breathed life into me came into sharp focus.  See, there are two competing “truths” about the value of things that are deemed obsolete.  To some, the value of an obsolete item is directly proportional to its complete lack of usefulness (usefulness in their eyes).  But to others, the value of an obsolete item can approach incalculable.  Just talk to a collector, an antique store owner or an Ebay seller.

To my neighbor, that Little Professor calculator had long since lost its usefulness.  It was a forgotten toy taking up space, and wasn’t even worth a dollar.  To my wife, you couldn’t put a price on the joy that it gave her to reconnect with a treasure from her childhood.  The image of my wife talking about that calculator, is so much like how I envision God talking about you and I.  What was lost is now found.  What was stickered as 50 cents is now the most incalculable treasure.  When others look at us, or we look at ourselves, we most times see sticker.  When God looks at us, He always sees treasure.

You don’t “buy” that?  Keep reading his Book … you’ll see!


  1. Hi Guys,
    Two great articles this week. Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes we have to retreat to the obsolete to identify the problem before we can press ahead with the new . Great thoughts!

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