It all started when I didn’t go to church on Sunday, and I felt terribly guilty.
The day went really well until about 5pm when my daughter cut herself on an old picture frame I was meant to be mending. She needed three stitches.
Then the dog got terrible diarrohea.
And on Monday morning, I found to my dismay I had missed out of my morning tea duty at church, and my son had missed his first day as acolyte.
Finally, Monday culminated in a terrible row with my husband over – I can’t even remember what now. It was so trivial, related I think to the way he looked at the dinner I cooked him.
On Tuesday morning I woke to find my engagement ring gone. I knew where I’d left it, because there was a gap where it would usually be between my watch and my wedding ring. I’d left them all on the kitchen bench after cutting myself while making the children’s lunches at 9.30pm. I’d stomped off to bed to be woken by the phone at 10pm to be told by my mum about the latest awful instalment in her husband’s battle with cancer. Cancer was winning, and it wasn’t being gracious.
I hadn’t remembered to put my rings away, and so when the engagement ring absolutely vanished, I felt an awful conglomerative mess of guilt and anguish. My husband still hadn’t spoken to me on his way out the door, and I was feeling like he didn’t love me. I couldn’t face the idea of telling him the ring was lost.
I took the kids to school, came home, looked some more, then made slow cooking curry for dinner, looked some more, unable to make the call that I hoped would put my mind at rest: “Jon, have you moved my ring?”
I didn’t even dare say a prayer. I save my prayers for people. I try to, anyway. And anyway, I hadn’t been to church on Sunday and had let my church family down by forgetting my duties, and my children’s duties!
God doesn’t work like that, I know, but it somehow felt like he was working through this. Not to smack me around for not going to church… but for something else.
The litany of disasters felt like God was angry with me. Eventually Jon rang me and without ado I blurted out that I’d lost the ring. The ring I’ve worn each day for more than 12 years. There was a silence. Then he just said: “Well I’ll let you go to look for it.” My hope that he had moved it was smashed and I hung up the phone and sobbed: for my mum; for my ring and my marriage; for my children who I was failing by not taking them to church…. It all came out. Then I got up, dried my eyes and went off looking for the ring again. This time I went through the recycling, as Jon said he’d picked it up from near where the ring was left.
An hour later, I was sitting despondently trying to work when Jon rang. He announced he was coming home to look for the ring with me.
Many years ago when I broke another engagement, the ring had been lost too, and Jon said he wondered whether that had been psychological and now I’d lost our ring too…. When he put it that way, I became even more frantic. But because I’d looked everywhere I could think of, now I just had to sit quietly and hope that some revelation would hit me.
When Jon came home, we looked through the house for an hour. Still nothing. We sat down and nutted out our differences about the argument from the night before, and why we’d both been so sensitive in the last 24 hours. Then we looked again.
I knew nothing was going to turn up, and I knew I didn’t know why I knew that. My insides were in such a mess about the argument, the accidents, my sick puppy, the angry ant-like stitches on my daughters ankle. I just knew it wasn’t going to turn out right, but then I also knew it would. How can I explain the paradoxical fear and trust which were in me? I was fearful that I thought I knew I wouldn’t find it, because I couldn’t trust that I could ask God for it. What if He didn’t answer.
Anyway, it says in the Bible that when we can’t pray ourselves, the Spirit inside us prays instead, and that must have been what was happening because while I was so sick inside myself, while we drove around and did our chores buying sports kit and replacing broken vacuum cleaners, the Spirit was giving my husband an idea to go through the recycling again.
When we got home the kids rushed into the door with their new toys, and I stood looking at Jon as he prepared to take out the recycling for collection the next day. I felt so sick because I felt my ring must be in there but I couldn’t face going through all that rubbish to find it, only to find that it wasn’t there after all. Complicated? I know. That’s what was going on inside me.
As he was preparing to wheel out the recycling bin, he stopped. Stood still. Took out one box, the one on top. Looked inside, in slow motion. Took out all the rubbish that was inside it. Cocked his head. I had to stop looking. What had made him cock his head?
Then he called my name: “Serena.” His face was glowing. It was white with shock. His hand was in the air. There was a glint at the top of his hand. I burst into tears. It was my ring.
“Thank you,” I said to him as I rushed up and hugged him. “No,” he said, “Thank you God.”
And yes, Thank You God.
Jesus says: “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15, 8-10
Dear Father God, I thank you for directing Jon how to find my ring. I thank you for so much more than that, but that is my thanks right now. Please help this testimony reach into the heart of a reader who is scared to come to you. Let it move in their heart and let them know that to they are way more precious to You than my ring is to me – and your celebration is more when they come to you asking for forgiveness in Jesus’ name. In Jesus’ name I pray this, Amen