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Posts Tagged ‘ring’

Around six years ago, I finished writing the first draft of my very first novel. It had been a dream of mine to write for so long that when I completed that very last sentence, I could not believe I had actually done it! It was a surreal moment – one which I had to share with a dear friend of mine who had supported me throughout my college and ministry years and now my writing journey. I remember even now picking up the phone with a hand that shook and announcing to her in a breathless voice, ‘Guess what? I’ve finished my novel!’

Two days later, a card arrived in the mail from my friend. I still have it to this day – and this is what it says: The Book! Well done, dear Jo-Anne! Congratulations – and my prayers and love for the next phase.

My friend knows how to share unreservedly in another’s joy – how to savour that most precious of moments with someone when that is exactly what is needed. Her response made me feel loved and respected – and yes, empowered. I knew she believed in me and in what I could also go on to do in the future.

Earlier this week, I recollected this experience when our younger daughter Tina announced her engagement. She walked in with a decidedly pleased expression on her face and a very large white gold ring adorning her left hand – so needless to say, we were impressed! We warmly congratulated her, but later I felt we could have been more joyful and enthusiastic for her. The truth is, I have had two very busy, exhausting years of writing, releasing novels and speaking on more than sixty occasions. Right now, I am looking forward to winding down a little over the Christmas break, but that is no excuse for short-changing another and not sharing fully in their joy. So since then, I have put my mind to it a little more – and yes, we do plan to celebrate and truly enter into the moment with our daughter and her fiancé in the next few days.

I am aware too that Tina has been very touched by the well wishes of so many of her friends and family members. An older church friend sent her a card the very next day, as did an aunty, and I know she was moved by the speed at which they congratulated her. Text messages have flowed every which way – Tina has waited quite a while for this moment and I am both delighted to see others sharing in her joy and also challenged to do better myself.

In Romans 12:15, we are encouraged to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ – to truly enter into the depths of another’s feelings and to walk the journey with them, whether it be one of joy or sadness. Paul also writes about those in the body of Christ in particular that ‘if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor 12:25-26) So that’s how I want to respond to those around me. I want to get past my own self-centredness, however tired and busy I am, and have a much more generous and loving heart towards others.

How are you doing at ‘rejoicing with those who rejoice’?

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I have some jewellery which I particularly love – a gold bracelet and ring I received as a farewell gift from the church where I was part of the ministry team for some time.  Yes, this jewellery is valuable in monetary terms, but its value lies much more in what it represents – all the love and thoughtfulness on the part of my friends, especially those who so carefully chose the gifts.

I rarely take my ring and bracelet off.  But one night recently, I realised the bracelet was no longer around my wrist. I looked everywhere in the house with no success. And then it dawned on me – I had spent some time pulling weeds in the backyard that afternoon. I had roughly pushed the large pile of rubbish I collected into an old garbage bin and carried it up the steps from our backyard to a spot near the house. Could my bracelet be among all those weeds in that bin?

It was dark and cold outside, so I resigned myself to leaving the search until the following morning and going to bed without knowing if my bracelet would ever be seen again. But my husband had other ideas. Acting on a ‘strong hunch’, he grabbed a torch and headed down our back steps, intent on seeing if the bracelet was lying on the ground somewhere. I tried to dissuade him – I thought it would be a completely fruitless exercise. But he was determined to set my mind at rest.

Within less than a minute, he had returned. I was still yelling out to him not to worry, that I would go through the garbage bin the next day.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to,” he told me calmly – and held out my gold bracelet to me.

Somehow in the dark, with a very weak torch and without even knowing exactly where I had been in yard, he had spotted it lying there on the grass.

At that point, I was forcibly reminded of the story Jesus told about the woman with the lost coin:

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours 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)

Even as I write this, I am looking down at my bracelet, rejoicing that it was indeed found. But Jesus tells us this is absolutely nothing compared with the joy in heaven when one of us is truly found by God. I know how much I love my bracelet and how sorry I would be to lose it – but that’s nothing at all to how much God loves and values us. God is that woman searching for her lost coin. God is that shepherd we read about in the same chapter of Luke, seeking out his lost sheep, just as he is also that loving father who welcomes his lost son home.

 God paid a huge price to buy us back. In love for us, God went to great lengths to find us. And as I look down at my gold bracelet and am reminded of this, I am truly grateful.

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