The ancient mountains of North Georgia remind me of an eternal truth: There is a big difference between gold and fool’s gold.
My favorite get-a-way retreat is a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia. My perspective changes for the better from a high place, and the cool mountain air is refreshing. Life is simpler, reducing itself to the basics.
The cabin is nestled in the mountains about an hour north of Atlanta, where the Appalachian mountains begin, as does the Appalachian Trail. Anyone interested can walk a short 2100 miles on the Trail all the way to Maine. Thirty minutes to the east of the cabin is Dahlonega, and thirty minutes to the south is Canton. The Etowah River runs from near Dahlonega southwest down to Canton. In the early 1800s, surface gold was found in the river at Dahlonega, and the search for gold spread like wildfire down the river to Canton. This became gold country. After the surface gold was picked up, gold mining began in various forms such as panning, traditional mining, and water erosion. Before it was over, the gold rush resulted in a multitude of claims and mines along that stretch of river. Towns and the local economy boomed. A mint was built in Dahlonega to produce gold coins. The creek in the valley below the cabin contains evidence of diggings, perhaps from this gold rush era, or an earlier time. Throughout history, man would spare no effort or expense, and would risk his own life to find and own gold, and this Dahlonega gold rush was no different.
Today the gold is gone. One of the most productive mines, closed for a number of years, has now been restored and is open solely for tourism. Several souvenir shops will provide a bucket of river sand for the curious to sift for a few flakes of gold. When hiking the creeks, rivers and waterfalls in the area, one cannot help but think back to that time and keep one eye open for that sunlight glimmer of gold in the edge of the water. However, everything that glimmers is not gold. The glimmer in the rocks and water today is only fool’s gold.
The mountains and the story of this search for gold cause one to reflect:
1. What worthwhile thing in our lives produces something of enduring value? Even gold, the value of which is measured in ounces, can eventually disappear. Where does love, truth, family, faith, character, and eternity (among others) register on the value scale?
2. The source of gold ultimately points to the mountain. In limited quantities, it may be found in the creeks and streams, but the source is in the mountains.
3. To find the source of the gold, or anything else of value, will require some effort, some climbing and digging, and some risk taking. To find true gold is worth the effort.
4. Where is the wisdom to quickly assess and recognize the fool’s gold, so as to avoid wasting time, effort, and life on things that may look valuable, but in reality are of no lasting value?
Consider what these Scriptures teach regarding mountains, gold, and the real gold:
1. God is a God of the mountains. Figuratively speaking, the mountain is where one goes to meet with God. In the Bible, from Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, and Elijah, through Christ’s transfiguration, crucifixion, and coming return to reign, one can see God chooses to move on the mountains. Ps 121:1, 2 says “I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
2. The Bible says, and many would say even today King Solomon of Israel was the most wealthy and wise man to have ever lived. The gold he gave toward the building of the first temple in Jerusalem was measured in tons. He wrote in Proverbs 28:25b-26a “He who trusts in the Lord will prosper; He who trusts in himself is a fool.”
3. Solomon also wrote in Proverbs 3:13, 14 “Wisdom”…”and understanding”…”yields better returns than gold.”
4. David, Solomon’s father, said in Psalms 19:9b-11 “The ordinances of the Lord”…”are more precious than gold”…”in keeping them there is great reward.”
5. Job wrote in Job 22:25 that…”the Almighty will be your gold.”
6. Micah 4:2 says “Let us go to the mountain of the Lord”…”He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His path.”
7. Finally, James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
God made and moves on the mountains, and He made the gold. His presence is the true gold. The wisdom and understanding that comes from knowing God and His ways is more priceless than gold. His way is the way of love, and leads to those things of enduring value, such as truth, faith, character, and eternity. By seeking Him, one can find His wisdom and the discernment to quickly identify the fool’s gold. God is the source of this wisdom, and if one asks, he will surely find it because God will generously supply it.