In Search of Gold. The Ruthless Pursuit of Gold, Part 2


A sky full of promise (taken right after crossing the Yukon)

Mining for gold was extremely hard work.

There were actually two ways to mine for gold:

The first type of miner is the "Placer Miners".

Placer gold is gold dust, gold flakes, or gold nuggets, generally mixed with gravel in riverbeds and hillside benches. Because gold is heavier than gravel, over long periods of time it generally settles just above bedrock. One has to dig quite deep to reach that bedrock. In the Klondike area, the bedrock is 60 feet underground. In Fairbanks, it is 200 feet underground! In order to be a miner, you had better love to dig!

It is generally quite cold in the Yukon during the winter, which, by the way, can last up to eight months! Miners would dig gravel throughout the winter (What a great workout, don't you think!), but because they needed running water (unavailable until late Spring) to tell if their diggings contained any gold, they would be clueless as to whether or not their efforts were fruitful. They had to stay focused on their goal to avoid becoming discouraged.

The second type of miner was the "Lode Miner".

Lode miners worked either underground, like moles, or in open pits. They used dynamite and picks to break rock, which in turn had to be crushed. Crushers would pound and grind the rock. (Imagine having THAT on your resume . . . "Crusher for two years"!) After the rock was crushed, the miners would wash it with water (Time for a bath kiddies!), just as they did with placer gold, to separate the gravel from the ore. Then gold was collected using mercury. The mercury adheres to the gold, forming a combination known as an amalgam, or a mixture of elements, while the remaining unattractive materials washed away. It could be said that mercury "loves" gold, don't you think? (Maybe women aren't really from Venus after all … They are from Mercury!)

Now that the gold was found, the miner had the tedious task of separating the loving mercury from the gold nugget. This was not an easy task! They would try to scrape it off, but this didn't work very well. Another method was to heat the mixture to a hot enough temperature so that the mercury would be vaporized.

As you can see from the above descriptions of the duties of a miner, this was not an ordinary 9 to 5 job behind a desk in an air conditioned office! The panning, the digging, the sluicing and the rocking were all very hard work. All that, and statistics tell us that most of the miners never found even one flake of gold! Talk about a rip-off!

Besides the hard work, the miners generally lived in extremely primitive conditions: small shacks or make-shift cabins with only the barest of necessities. Even rats live more luxuriously than they did!

What one wouldn't do to find gold!

Perseverance can be a golden trait, but if wasted on futilities like searching for gold, it is really of no use at all. But there's always that chance . . . What IF someday I DO hit the jack pot? What if I DO really win the lottery? What if one day I finally DO meet Prince Charming? What if…

But wait! Are we spending all of our efforts worrying about the gold on this planet, all the while neglecting the "gold" of Heaven? "It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is ("My precious!"), is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." (Matt 6:21 The Message)

Where will you be hundred years from now? Where is your eternal destination? "Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars." (Matt 6:19-20 The Message)

Are the pursuits of our life matching the inner urgings of our soul? "You can't have it both ways, you know! You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both." (Matt 6:24 The Message)

What is more precious to you? "If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds." (Matt 6:25-26 The Message)

There is one neat thing if you opt for God: You will be freed from unnecessary and burdensome worries! "What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving… Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." (Matt 6:31, 33 The Message)

Just like the miners were single-minded in their pursuit of gold, we need to stay focused on our walk towards Heaven in order to avoid discouragement and distraction. "Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God." (Heb 12:2-3 The Message)

Where are you heading? Do you need your picks, gold-pans and shovels when you get there? If not, can I borrow them?

Rob Chaffart

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