Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Real Treasure

Where was my gold chain?  There was the cross husband had given me years ago for an anniversary and the enamel ladybug that matched the Avon earrings and bracelet from my Grandmother, but the thin, gold chain I used for all my pendants was missing.

Hurriedly, I pushed around the clutter on the bathroom cabinet, then simply grabbed the gold-plated chain with the single pearl that my daddy had brought back from one of his business trips when I was a young girl.  There was no time for search and rescue, and besides, my treasure was likely hiding in one of the jewelry chest's cubbies or in the ring holder by the kitchen sink.

I exchanged the grungy painting clothes for the vibrant maxi dress before rushing with my daughter to a dainty little girl tea party a half hour away, me not giving another thought to the maybe crisis I had just discovered but hadn't realized as of yet.

The following morning was Sunday.  Again, I reached for the gold chain and remembered its absence.  Unconcerned, I went to the jewelry box and sifted through each compartment. Nothing.

I ran down to my office, remembering that I had taken earrings off at my desk one late night as I sat working on the computer. Not there either.

Then came the kitchen, the other bathroom, and the end tables in the living room.  Still nothing.

By this point, I could feel those first pinpricks of anxious concern at the back of my neck, but again, I couldn't imagine it was really missing since I'm so careful with my treasures, always putting them in their place.  I continued with the Sunday morning routine like normal--dressing children, feeding children, and teaching Sunday School.  It wasn't until the middle of the sermon that I remembered the missing necklace again.   

As I tried to mentally back track to the last time I'd worn it, I suddenly realized it wasn't just the chain that was missing.  That morning in my search, I also hadn't seen the heart husband had given me for Valentines' Day that year early in our marriage when he had to be away in Jackson.

And right there in the pew, I felt the blood drain from my face and the panic set in. 

As soon as the service ended and we reached the house, I began a frantic sprint from room to room.  Then came the confession that my daughter "might" have been playing with it but "didn't remember" where it was.

My heart sunk.  I'd never find it.   Still, I continued to search, all the while giving myself an internal pep talk: "It's just a necklace and pendant, no big deal.  It's just a 'thing.'" But in all honesty, my heart still felt tight; it wasn't the tangible object I was upset about losing.  It was the memory associated with it.

A half hour later when husband came up to see me, he found a crazy woman dismantling our bedroom. 

Then, just when I had given up all hope, I caught a thin glimmer of light at the bottom of a woven basket.  Sure enough, my daughter (or some other guilty party not confessing) had been playing with the necklace as it lay on top of the jewelry chest.  She had either accidentally knocked it off or had dropped it to the floor as she fled the scene of the crime where it settled invisible into a pile of pink and purple Hawaiian leis. 

Jubilant, I yelled down the good news to my husband.  My children ran up the stairs to rejoice with me, all of us happy with finding this one lost necklace among many.    Then, I called my mother, sharing my excitement even further away.

Even as I stood in the doorway of my bedroom, I remembered the woman in Scripture who lost a single coin and then turned her own house upside down to find it:

"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:8-10).
Here I was, over two thousand years later, repeating much the same search for a necklace as valuable to me as the coin was to her.  What's more, I realized I had just run the gambit of emotions God feels each time a lost child enters His kingdom.

I had felt the the anxiety, the heart pains, the huge sense of loss, the determination that I would not give up,  the hope against hope even when there seemed to be no hope, and the overflowing, radiant joy that could not be contained or kept to myself.

It's those last few that struck me so deeply.   

I serve a God who hopes against hope even when there seems to be no hope...because there always IS hope in His Son.   

I serve a God who never gave up on me.  I serve a God still determined, persistent, the One who will not let me go.

I serve a God who couldn't keep His rejoicing to Himself on that day I gave my heart to Him.

That level of sorrow, of commitment, and of rejoicing--all for just me...all for just you.

All for JUST ONE.

It is beyond humbling, beyond gracious, beyond precious.

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