Old Zeke finally struck it rich. The California Gold Rush began in 1849. The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill led to one of the most rapid migrations in American history over the next few years. Eureka became the name of an early mountain mining town that only existed for a few years, but it was later adopted by the port city on the coast that now is home to about 30,000 people. Also, ever since 1850, “Eureka” has been the one-word motto on the official seal of the State of California.
Actually, Old Zeke and his friends borrowed the word eureka from another memorable discoverer, the 3rd century BC Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes. The story goes that Archimedes had been pondering how to calculate the volume of an odd-shaped object, like a rock, or a tree, or a sailing ship. One day, he was sitting down in his bathtub, and he watched the water rise along the side wall. Suddenly, the answer struck him — his body was an odd-shaped object, and he could calculate its volume by measuring the rise in water level and multiplying it by the surface area. He got so excited that he splashed out of the tub, ran out of his house and jumped and danced naked all over the town square, yelling “Eureka! Eureka!” “I’ve found it! I’ve found it!” (That’s what the Greek word means.) Just like Old Zeke the California prospector more than 2,000 years later, only with less clothes.
There are a number of important eureka moments in the Bible:
- When the reality of their sin fully dawned on Adam and Eve, “The eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7).
- When the Prophet Nathan pointed to King David and said, “You are the man!” and David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7, 13).
- As Mary accepted the angelic announcement that she would experience a virgin birth and responded, “My soul magnifies the Lord!” (Luke 1:46).
- When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and exclaimed, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
- When Andrew, having heard Jesus speak, hurried back to his brother Peter saying, “We have found the Messiah!” (John 1:41).
- As Paul realized he had been blinded by the sudden flash of light and asked, “Who are you, Lord?” and heard the answer, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).
All of these were Aha! incidents, when the light of recognition suddenly went on. Sometimes this happened after a long period of groping in the darkness. These were important eureka moments of self-discovery.
Have you had a special personal moment of discovery? A time when you suddenly felt you understood a lot about yourself and your place in the universe all at once? Hopefully, it was a eureka moment because it involved a personal encounter with God, including a sense of being forgiven and accepted unconditionally by him.
I’d like to help you claim such a moment right now. I’m praying for you, as Apostle Paul did for the spiritual seekers he was writing to:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. (Ephesians 1:17-19)
EUREKA! You’ve struck it rich!
I don’t think you should run around naked in Pasadena Old Town, but I do encourage you to call a close friend and tell them about your eureka moment.
– Pastor George Van Alstine