Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

      It began as one of those ordinary days—you know, a day where nothing is too exciting, too dull, too demanding or too anything. Even the weather played along with a one-note gray sky that was neither too wet, too dry, too hot, nor too cold. Carrie had gone out for a long walk, while Rayola and I opted to sink into the couch instead of sinking into the abundance of mud that used to be our dusty driveway. Content with a hot cup of tea, a hunk of dark chocolate, and a good book, I hardly noticed when, some time later, Carrie burst through the door. I remember hearing the words, “I found a ring,” but, not quite believing what I thought I heard, I asked, “You found a what?”

“A ring. I found a ring.”

      “What kind of a ring?” My imagination was conjuring up dual images of rings. One was of an impeccable gold ring, heavy with valuable gemstones, while the other was the gaudy plastic kind that kids win from a gum machine.

      “This one,” she said as she held it out for our examination. “It was in a mud puddle.”

      Fascination began to trickle over me like fairy dust. The ring was badly damaged, obviously from being run over multiple times. It was neither gold and heavily jeweled, nor was it a cheap imitation. Instead, it was silver, and still boasted eight small diamonds in their settings, four on each side of the…. I wish I could go on to say, “the huge diamond in the center.” Sadly, all the crushing and beating had probably taken it’s toll, for the prongs were flattened and the crowning glory of the ring was gone. Even some of the diamond chips that had been skillfully fitted on either side of the band where the little diamonds were still intact, were missing, yet enough remained to give mute testimony of what a grand and beautiful ring it had once been. A feeling of sadness rushed over me as I began to imagine the grief some unknown woman must’ve felt when she somehow lost this once-beautiful ring.

      “Do you think the big diamond is somewhere in the mud puddle?” I asked hopefully.

      “I don’t know,” came the honest answer.

      “Well, let’s go see if we can find it,” I said, still glued to the couch. I was tired, and it was going to be a struggle for my curiosity to get the better of my physical slump. However, my active imagination began to kick in, and when it takes over, it’s only a matter of time before action follows. I tried in vain to resume my little time of rest and recreation, but eventually Carrie and I found ourselves pulling on boots, and zipping up hooded jackets. The expedition to the mud puddle had begun.

      By the time we arrived at the general location of where she found the ring, the scene had somewhat changed from what it had been earlier in the day. Melting ice had exposed a larger area of pavement, and there were mud puddles everywhere. Carrie wasn’t quite sure just which one had held the treasure, so we tried to casually scan the puddles and potholes as best we could while keeping an eye on traffic. It was obvious from the start that finding a loose diamond that had been most likely missing for a long time in such an environment was next to impossible.  I told myself to face that fact that it was lost. Gone. Forever. But, I simply could not get the ring out of my mind.

      For the next couple of days I would catch myself mentally drifting into the uncharted, roadless territory of the imagination where words like “maybe,” “suppose,” and “what if” preceded unfounded explanations to the mystery surrounding the ring. “Maybe somebody stole the ring, removed the big diamond in order to hock it, and then drove for miles before tossing the ring out into the street.” “Why would anybody do that?” I asked myself. “After all, the ring was worth far more when it was in one piece.” “What if some poor woman was so miserably married that she tore the ring off her finger and tossed it into the street.” “On the other hand, suppose somebody was moving out of the neighborhood, and the ring somehow got lost, and then the rain washed it away….” “But, look at how terribly beat up that ring is! It could’ve been in the street for a long time.” “Maybe the ring got caught up in a tire, and then flipped out into the mud puddle.” “That big diamond has to be somewhere out there…” An endless procession of fascinating and possible explanations paraded through my mind as I found myself becoming increasingly preoccupied with the ring.

      To me, the ring was more than just a scarred and battered piece of jewelry. In its mute way it told a story—a story of hope, beauty, joy, and love. The ring had been uniquely and specially designed by a master hand. Someone had purchased the ring with joy, and most likely bestowed it upon the woman who was the object of his affections. Whatever tragic circumstances transpired after that, however, will forever remain a mystery. The ring was posted in the local paper in the “Found” section, but no one called to identify and claim it.

      As I pondered the sad fate of the ring one day, the Spirit spoke to my heart. In an instant my focus on the ring was caught up and swept into another perspective where the lost state of the ring was overshadowed by the lost state of humanity. The message was clear. How easy it is to become obsessed with the “lost” things of this world, when, instead, as believers, we should be consumed with the reality of lost souls for whom Christ died. After all, mankind was created, like the center gem in a beautiful ring, to be the crowning glory of God’s creation. He was designed to reflect the glory of God, much like an expertly cut gemstone reflects the light. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” Psalm 139:14  “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” Ecclesiastes 3:11. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” Genesis 1:a.

      Into this perfect world entered a deceiver, a thief, a killer, and destroyer. But, praise be to God, He sent His Son to destroy all the works of the devil. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10:10. Like the lost ring, sin batters and scars the lost soul, separating us from God. Sin blurs, mangles, and destroys the original design and glorious purpose for which God created us. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23; “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23a. Sin brings us into a total state of eternal ruin: “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” Ezekiel 18:4c. Thank God, we are not left without a way of escape, and that way is Jesus, who declared, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray” Matthew 18:11-13. There is a question that must be asked: how can the love of God dwell in us if we have no compassion or concern for the lost souls around us?

      Perhaps today you can relate to the ring. Once you shined beautiful and bright, but then wrong decisions and contrary circumstances brought you to a place of ruin and loss. You are in despair because you have no way of putting the pieces of your life back together again. Like the ring, you lost something that was once beautiful in your life, and now you feel scarred and mangled. There may be others who are like the lost sheep—wandering in a spiritual wilderness that is dark, barren, and frightening. You know that you strayed from the Shepherd of your soul, but you don’t know how to find your way back again, and the hopelessness of being lost is more than you can bear. There may be someone reading this who has fallen prey to the thief and liar. You know that you are captive to something dark and sinister. You’ve fought and struggled, but you do not know how to be set free. Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of how you feel, where you are, or what you’ve done, there is One who knows all about it. He was there when you were conceived, there when you were brought forth, there when you took your first breath, and there when you hit the lowest point in your life. He stands before you now, arms outstretched. He is only a prayer away.

      Consider this: “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” Psalm 139:1-12. Jesus says to you, “The  Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” Luke 4:18.

      The ring Carrie found will never be restored to its original state of perfection and beauty. We’ll never know the story that surrounds it, or how it came to be brought to such a state of loss and ruin. Only God knows where the center diamond is. It goes without saying, however, that it is far more important to know that if we are in Christ, and He is in us, we can never be lost. He is the crowning jewel in our lives. Jesus promises, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” John 8:12. John wrote, “In him was life: and the life was the light of men” John 1:4. In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we have this promise, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Jesus commanded His followers to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:16

      If you have never opened up your heart to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, why haven’t you? You have everything to gain, and nothing to lose except separation from God in an eternal  hell. Jesus wants to redeem and restore you to the glory that God originally planned for you. Jesus tells us, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water [the Word] and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” John 3:5-7. (Emphasis added.) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” Acts 4:12. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent” John 17:3.

      Jesus is saying, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” Revelation 3:20. Will you open the door to Him now? For, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” Revelation 22:17.