A decade ago, Matt had an aunt who had been struggling for years to make ends meet. When her health started to decline, she was forced to sell her fifty acres of property to pay for health care. So, partly as an act of kindness, Matt traveled to Massachusetts where he himself purchased the land from his aunt - for the assessed value of $50,000. Later, while he was out exploring the land with the idea of building a house, he discovered numerous stone outcroppings and rock ledges.
Intrigued, he contracted a geologist, who then surveyed the land. It turned out that the stone was actually something known as Goshen stone, which is a fairly rare type of mica that is especially useful for sidewalks, patios, landscapes, and the like.
At that particular time, mica was selling for around $100 a ton. The value of the mica on the surface alone was appraised at $50,000, or the price of the parcel of land. But Mr. White had approximately twenty four million tons of it underneath his fifty acre tract. Some experts insist that, based on the estimated amount of mica that still lies beneath the land, its true value is closer to $2 billion.
Not surprisingly, this news prompted more than a few of White's teammates to give him a new nickname: "The Billionaire." He went on to set up a family run business called Swift River Stone. During its first year of operation, it made $600,000. According to the official company website, even now, years later, sales of Goshen Stone appear fairly steady.
Burke uses this as a wonderful illustration about the value of human life. We are all, each and every one of us, people who have been made in God's image. Now, most people are only valued for what is seen on the outside. Jesus, however, looked beyond the surface appearance and saw the great value of people on the inside – as individual souls uniquely created in the image of Almighty God and esteemed valuable enough, when
lost, to redeem at the cost of His own Son.
This Sunday is “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”. As such, it is a good time to remind each of us, as followers of Jesus Christ, that we, the church, must also see the dignity and value beneath the surface of each and every person we encounter. I can only hope we will - for their sake and ours; but especially for His.
John Burke’s site is: http://www.johnburkeonline.com/about/. His book is available there. Swift River Stone can be found at: http://www.swiftriverstone.net/index.html.