Within the chaos of trying to do more than I ought, and move faster than realistic, I have been woken up(!!) to some things by the Lord.
Let me tell you friends, He has gotten my attention, and it has been hard, humbling, restorative, and beautiful too. With all that said, writing is how I process, it’s how I try to make sense. And in this journey of becoming a ‘blogger’ of sorts – I figure if God chooses to teach me something – and if He puts it on my heart to write the thing out – then maybe some of it is worth sharing. So, here’s the story of the miracle I experienced this week:
Within the busyness I have allowed into my life, I have begun to subconsciously approach precious parts of my life casually. I did not even realize that I had started to allow what is sacred to become comfortable and commonplace. I mean to be grateful, and I definitely have good intentions, but I have missed out on the opportunity to remember the sacrifices of others for me, and lose my focus of the holy within the day to day.
Yet some things, like engagement rings and the cross of Jesus Christ, were never meant to be trivialized. They were never meant to become just an accessory. In a first-world, Bible-belt culture, I’ve assumed things about my faith instead of investigating them. I’ve unknowingly acted like God is a replaceable tag-along to my life. I’d forgotten the delicacy of a passed-down diamond, and the irreplaceable spot it holds in my heart and on my hand.
You see, that’s what I did. I toted my wedding band and the ring I was given at my daughter’s birth to an adventure race this past weekend. Not really thinking, I packed them into a clear plastic bag with several cotton balls. Not stopping to consider the consequences of taking them – I then lost them. We checked and checked again, we called and posted and messaged, and even went through 2 entire dumpsters worth of race day trash. No rings.
I lost the most precious earthly gifts I have ever been given. Because I was rushing. Because I treated something precious with careless apathy.
Just like the cross; when we become too farsighted, or too near sighted, or just plain blind to whose we are… we lose ourselves (2 Peter 1:9). We lose sight of the promise of heaven while we wrap ourselves in the feelings of our present.
We get so lost in our lives that we cannot even remember how it happened. We cannot pinpoint the exact moment because the exact moment happened long before a bag of priceless rings became a belonging of my past.
The moment of loss was when we began to allow ourselves to believe that the cross could be casual. When we lose an irreplaceable gift, the person I fear we hurt the most is our gift-giver. No one will know the sacrifice and effort of the gift-giver except himself.
Yet, no matter how gruesome or petty our sin, our Savior, our ultimate gift-giver, stood at the top of the hill and took it all.
He takes our selfish, hurried actions, and forgives us freely. He promises us a future with him, even when we throw away his gifts.
2 Peter 1:9 states that those who lack “these qualities” which are virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love – when we lack these things, we become nearsighted and blind, forgetting that we have been cleansed from former sins.
Literally, in my lack of self-control and knowledge, I forgot the sanctity of the cross, and the preciousness of my rings. I forgot what happened to my rings. I thought they might’ve fallen out of my backpack into the muddy women’s changing area – but I did not truly know. Thankfully, Brian was not lacking in steadfastness and love towards me as we drove 2 hours early Monday morning to Fort Benning, and went through 2 entire dumpsters of trash together, where he stood atop a pile of trash, looking for a bag of cotton balls and 2 diamond rings.
As we were sifting through bag after bag of muddy shoes, banana peels, cups and even diapers, I felt so heavy with remorse. The phrases I’d been trying to memorize from 1 Peter kept winding through my thoughts.
1 Peter 1:13 “…preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds we are healed.”
3:18 “For Christ also suffered for our sins, the righteous and the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”
As much as I deserve to dig through the trash, searching for a lost gift, Christ’s ultimate gift to me has already been given. As much as I deserve to sit in heaps of regret, and take in the stench of my former apathy – God reminds me what has already been done for me, and what cannot be lost.
My salvation is still available to me, my marriage is much more than a ring, and my motherhood more meaningful than a passed down diamond.
We drove home quiet and empty handed. Smelly and sad. We exchanged very few words as we got home, both sick with loss. In that moment, I honestly felt like a part of our marriage had been taken away.
But God, in His mercy and compassion – revealed to us more in this hard lesson than I think I would have acknowledged any other way. He’s reminded me again to
s l o w d o w n. Focus on my health and mental clarity. Get back on my thyroid medication. Honor the things deserving of reverence and protection. And to not give up hope. To not stop praying or reaching out for prayer. To believe in the community of praying believers, together approaching the feet of Christ, asking for a miracle.
Wednesday morning, in an unexpected, quiet way – I found my rings.
They were in a zipped bag of hair accessories – not the one I believed them to be in, or remember packing them in. I didn’t take that bag to the race, so I never even looked there for the rings to begin with. Also, I normally use bobby pins or hair ties every day, and had been proud of myself for not really ‘doing’ my hair the last few days – delaying my looking in that particular spot for 3 additional days. I have no recollection of ever placing the rings in that bag.
Y’all?!? The Lord needed to do a work in me lasting 3 days before He miraculously showed me the rings. Do not think the symbolism of the 3 days has been lost on me.
I thought He’d show up in the dumpster, or in cleaning my house, or in the 14 Facebook messages and race page posts, but in His incredible way, He came quiet, subtle, and patient.
He was in the dumpster, He was in the house, the messages, and in the bathroom drawer. Because that’s how He is. “He suffers so that He might bring us to Christ”
I can’t tell you the sheer excitement, gratitude, and extreme gratefulness I have felt since that moment. Our prayers were heard and acknowledged. When I did not deserve it, and it was all my fault, God gave me back the things I lost.
Just like Easter, He gives us what we do not deserve, He shows us miracles we cannot fully understand. Because He loves us. That’s who He is and how He works.
And we get to have relationship with Him. I cannot fully understand it – but I sure do have a new appreciation for it.