The glorious treasure trove that is only a prayer away

by Charles Gardner

DONCASTER, September 22nd, 2021 Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees. Perhaps we’re too close to notice the detail and beauty of what’s right in front of our eyes. Other times, I have discovered, we are blissfully unaware of the hidden wonders within spitting distance of us.

Such has been my experience of late. Spending time with family following the death of my father-in-law and introducing them, as usual, to parts of God’s own county we had not previously taken them, we came across a couplae of extraordinary facts about Yorkshire of which I was totally unaware myself.

We went for a beautiful walk along the River Don, but our young family were more energetic than usual, so we trudged on for a couple of miles before turning around. Suddenly, as we rounded a bend, there ahead of us was a magnificent viaduct I had never seen before despite over 40 years of living in this part of the world.

Conisbrough Viaduct
Conisbrough Viaduct

It’s a massive, stunning structure I couldn’t believe I had missed all these years – just nine miles from where we live – somehow hidden from surrounding towns and villages and spanning the foothills of the Pennine range. We later discovered (or my brother-in-law did) that it’s a railway bridge built in 1909 and scrapped in 1965. Made of 15 million bricks and about 150ft high, it has 21 spurs and is now… just a footpath!

Only the previous day we had made another amazing discovery while visiting the outstanding Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, near York, where a bomber squadron was stationed during World War II. There are many displays of the famous planes which helped to win the war including the Spitfire, Hurricane and Halifax bomber along with post-war jet fighters which proved a deterrent during the Cold War.

But we were taken aback by a sign announcing ‘Yorkshire’s greatest inventor’. Who? A man from Scarborough called Sir George Cayley, who effectively invented flying.

A full 50 years before the Wright brothers got their powered flying machine into the air for a mere 12 seconds, Sir George persuaded his coach driver to get into his home-made glider which duly took off down a steep slope and stayed airborne for longer than the Wrights managed with their engine.

A full-size model of Sir George’s glider is permanently displayed in the museum hanger, and his aeronautical designs still provide the basic dimensions for the production of modern planes. Again, I couldn’t believe I’d been living and working in Yorkshire all this time, and yet failed to come across this astounding fact.

Many of us are no doubt surrounded by hidden wonders waiting to be discovered and enjoyed – and the greatest of these is surely a personal relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ.

At a time when so many are desperately troubled and depressed by the state of the world (or their family and finances) and our seeming inability to find solutions, the gospel truth has not lost its power.

Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matt 13:44)

The Apostle Paul writes of “the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed…” (Rom 16:25) and of Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).

Jesus is waiting to share his priceless treasure with you. He died for you and was raised from the dead, urging all to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7).

But we are distracted by the worries of this life amid a cacophony of voices all demanding our attention. Or we are too busy serving gods made in our own image – our cars, gadgets, phones and just so much stuff. Yet we are never satisfied.

But God says: “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9) – an Old Testament truth repeated in the New; it’s for all time and for all who truly seek the Lord.

Don’t be distracted by the noisy propaganda of our time. Don’t be like the eco protestors who glued themselves to the M25 in their obsessive determination to get a message across that has been pounding their ears so long they feel forced to do something with it.

A spokesman for Insulate Britain, whose members are reportedly linked with Extinction Rebellion, said they felt they had no choice but to cause serious disruption, adding: “We are sorry, we are devastated, we do not know what else to do.1

Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a one-time ‘climate change’ sceptic, confesses to having been converted by the apparent scientific evidence that we face catastrophe if we fail to act. And yet one of the reasons we appear to be running out of gas is over-reliance on the much-vaunted green solutions of wind and solar power.

So many voices clamouring for our attention, but the one we really need to hear is that of Almighty God, who even deigned to speak to the young Samuel whose mother Hannah had dedicated him to the Lord’s service (1 Sam 3). When Eli the priest later realised that the Lord was trying to get the boy’s attention, he encouraged him to say: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” How we need to wait in silence for the Lord’s voice to speak over the clamour of worldly concerns.

I have just experienced a third hidden wonder – the sublime scenery of Northumberland – having walked a short section of Hadrian’s Wall which commands a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside. We also visited a 2nd century fort where a garrison was stationed to help secure the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire, and where myriads of shrines and altars to pagan gods have been excavated, revealing the multi-faith dimension of Roman Britain.

We got rid of all those false gods, but have since invited them back to pollute the land with a pantheon of shrines to idols of sport, entertainment and endless celebrities. We need to return to the one true God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

You who boast about not believing in God, have you ever put him to the test by asking him for a sign of his presence? He is just a prayer way. Call on him now while you have the chance.

I have heard it said that God’s phone number is 333, a reference to Jeremiah 33:3 where we are told that the Lord says: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Or to put it another way: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

  1. Daily Mail, September 20, 2021

pic Conisbrough viaduct

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