While history more frequently recalls the ‘49ers of California and the Gold Rush of 1848 when it comes to the first American gold rush, it actually started nearly 50 years earlier on the east coast after a boy brought home something he thought looked interesting. In 1799, twelve-year-old Conrad Reed found a large, glittering rock in the stream that ran through his family’s small farm in North Carolina. He carried it home to show his father, a poor immigrant farmer. His father didn’t understand the rock’s value and used it as a doorstop. For three years the family walked by it every day. Eventually, Conrad’s dad, an immigrant from Germany, wanted to know what kind of rock it was, so he took it to a jeweler. The jeweler told him the rock Conrad found on the family farm in Little Meadow Creek was actually a 17-pound gold nugget. The jeweler asked the farmer if he wanted to sell it, and the farmer responded that he would sell if for $3.50 (about $95 in today’s value). The jeweler jumped at the chance and purchased the nugget. The farmer really had no idea what the gold was worth, and he thought that a trade for a week’s worth of wages was fair.
As it turns out, the gold nugget was worth $3,600 at the time (about $100,000 today). Once word got out about the enormity of the find, Reed began to see how much money he missed out on. In 1803, he opened a small gold mining business on his land, and his property became the site of the first major gold strike in the United States. Eventually the company mined more than two million dollars-worth of gold from it, and he retired a wealthy man. A slave named Peter found a 28-pound gold nugget there, which is still the largest piece of gold ever reported to be found east of the Mississippi River.
Quite often, because of busyness, hurriedness, and not living with intentionality, we miss the blessings that are all around us. Sometimes we take the life we have for granted, along with our possessions, and we miss seeing them for the treasures they are. As the season of Thanksgiving enters upon us, may we see the treasures around us, even if they’re small. May we see our family, friends, and church as treasures with which we are blessed. May we be grateful for a nation that allows us to elect our leaders and live in freedom. May we cherish the people around us, seeing them as valuable. May we be thankful for the everyday provision the Lord provides. May our thankfulness for the Bible as God’s message to us motivate us to actually read it. May gratefulness motivate us to work hard as we do our part while leaving the rest to God, knowing that he is always faithful to do his part.
Psalm 100 says, Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.