Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bring out the best: Robes, Rings, and Sandals

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.’ (Luke 15:22 NKJV)

You are the Lord's special treasure*. The Father brings out the best for you.

Last May, Naomi** told us her story about finding a ring when she was a little girl on a walk with her mother and grandmother. Her story brought back memories of several ring stories I have. Rings have been milestone markers during my life and marriage, and this story is about the ring that marks my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

I really enjoy rings. They're beautiful and fun, and they have their place in the schemes of things. They are a signet, a sign for me. Every ring I wear has meaning and reminds me of a story behind it. But rings are simply things. The rings on my fingers are re-creations of all that is God's. He created the beauty of rubies and the brilliance of diamonds and the subtle gleam of gold. If it were not for Him, rings wouldn't circle my fingers at all. To me, they're tiny reflections, reminders of His glory.

Speaking of glory, this little tale tales place in Loafers Glory, North Carolina, in June of 1999. Loafers Glory is a tiny place that had its fifteen minutes of fame in the 70s as a feature of the National Geographic magazine. But it's also a place I've spent many wonderful summers.

On the way to pick up a pizza in nearby Bakersville, my husband, Jerry, and I planned to stop by the recycle center to take the trash and recyclables. We'd been painting the house and my hands felt dry and chapped. So just before we reached the recycle center, I took off my ruby ring and laid it in my lap for a moment to put lotion on my hands. (Yes, that's definitely an "Oh, no!" moment.) Distracted as we drove into the center, I totally forgot that I hadn't put it back on. The ring was hidden in the folds of my long sundress as I got out of the van to drop off the trash and bottles. We waved and spoke to Paul, the older man in charge of the center, and I never heard a sound as the ring fell from my dress onto the driveway. We did what we came to do and left.

Deep breath and long pause . . .

It wasn't until we returned home, finished our pizza, and began to relax, that I suddenly realized my ring was gone! I did a frantic pocket and purse search and did remember to pray. And it's a blessing to look back, because when I recall all that happened, those fervent prayers coincided with the time it was found. (I really do try hard to remember to pray about everything!)

In the midst of searching the van, I vividly recalled the moment when I must have lost it. So, back to the recycle center we drove, squealing tires and all (I can just see my guardian angel above us with wildly flapping angel-wings, panting to keep up with us!), where I searched the hot tarmac to no avail. I was devastated until Paul looked over at me-with-my-nose-to-the-ground, searching, and grinned. "Did you lose something?" He pulled out a business card and handed it to me. It could have been gold-plated, I was so thrilled! Well, poor guy, Paul found himself on the receiving end of a joyful hug and a bunch of appreciation. He just grinned from ear-to-ear and chuckled.

But I still had to claim my ring. A young woman, I'll call her Mary, who'd just lost her husband the week before, found it. She later told us that she'd prayed about what to do. She had her business cards with her an decided to write a note on the care: Found, lost ring. Call and describe. Then she left the card with Paul. She'd seen the ring in the recycle center driveway, sparkling in the afternoon sunshine, and thought some little girl must have lost her Cracker Jack® box ring. But when she picked it up and looked closer, she quickly realized that it was certainly no Cracker Jack® box ring!

And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' (Luke 15:9 NKJV)

I called Mary and left her an excited message that I was the ring's owner. She later returned my call to verify that the ring was mine, and Jerry and I drove up to her home at the tip-top of a mountain. Mary was as happy as I was, and since no way would she accept a reward, the Gideons ended up handing out some Bibles in her honor and name. We drove home, marveling at the gorgeous sunset, thankful and elated to have found that which was lost.

Be encouraged! God is in the details of our lives, caring for us in all things, great and small.

O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. (Isaiah 25:1 NKJV)

* * *

* Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (Exodus 19:5 NKJV)

* Naomi Rawlings, Encouragement for Mothers and Daughters, May 16, 2011 Making Home Work Blog

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