In the late summer of 1896, while our country was coming out of a financial recession, three men followed a hunch and found gold in the Klondike River of Canada’s Yukon Territory. As news of their new gold discovery spread south to Seattle, it lit a flame in the hearts of the recently impoverished people. That flame licked its way across the continent and set the hearts of over 100,000 ablaze with the hope that they too could strike it rich. Leaving behind families and jobs, they flocked north hoping to cash in and turn their luck around.
The journey was long and arduous. Most were not prepared for the extreme conditions that awaited them. 70,000 were forced to turn back before reaching their intended destination of Dawson City. About a year after setting out, the remaining 30,000 began arriving into Dawson only to discover that claims had already been made on the land containing their treasured riches. A few stayed on to seek employment. Most turned back, empty-handed.
The city of Dawson, complete with dirt streets, now stands as a capsule of time reminding us of how quickly a dream can come and go. Tailings* stand in lonely heaps just outside the city’s border reminding me of a child who has lost interest in his toys and was never asked to clean up the mess. The original dredge used to coax great riches from the hidden folds of the earth has been retired from active duty and now stands as a silent sentinel guarding the memories of the past.
For Quinten’s 9th birthday we tried our luck panning on the banks of the Klondike River. With hopes held high but expectations kept low, we scooped and swished like the best of them, eyes alert for the elusive gold glitter at the bottom of our pans. While the experience proved memorable in both a historical and educational sense, we were left with gold dust so fine you could only enjoy its glitter before washing it away in the stream.
TEMPORAL VS ETERNAL
As we’ve traversed this region and learned the history, I can’t help but reflect on the words of Jesus recorded in the gospels. Repeatedly he took something physical and taught us something eternal. A primary lesson that He repeated multiple times with a variety of illustrations was that of the Kingdom of God. In Mathew 13:44 he says this,
“The kingdom of Heaven is like 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.”
Perhaps nothing demonstrates this more poignantly than the Klondike Gold Rush. At the mere possibility of riches rumored to exist, thousands invested in a trip that would take months to complete and require an unfathomable amount of effort and hardship. Standing in stark contrast to this is Christ’s free offer of eternal salvation. The value is incomparable, yet why do our hearts not often respond to eternal rewards with the same reckless abandon as they do to the temporal?
“Lord, forgive our shortsightedness, our insatiable thirst for wealth knowing that You offer everything that truly holds value. Help us instead to thirst for You. Let our hearts fill with the joy of Your salvation and our response to mimic that of the prospectors—risking ALL for Your hidden treasure.”
1. (tailings) the residue of something, especially ore.
THE VIDEO VERSION OF OUR TRAVELS
If you’ve been following along with our YouTube videos, my husband recently wrapped up the video for our time in Banff. As I already emphatically stated, Banff is totally worth your time. I invite you to take in some previews of the beauty that you’d see and enjoy by watching our video below.