Oh, this life has its ups and downs and the hairpin turns can take your stomach right up your esophagus at times. It’s in the looking back that we see. Lately I’ve been pondering some events which fell like dominoes, but not all at once. Maybe from God’s perspective they were right in a row, but let me tell you, with all the hub-bub of life, and the distance between them they sure didn’t seem to fall that way in the living out down here where I feel and breathe and sometimes just hang on.
I see how I somehow came to a point in my life where I was just desperate to know God and I had to ask myself one more time some very big questions. I stood at a crossroad and I prayed a prayer that came from I-don’t-know-where. I prayed, “God, if you exist, I just want to know the Truth about You and I don’t really even care if I don’t like the answer.” And then I stared at two books which had been on my shelf. One was a book by a popular woman who proposes a New Age philosophy. The other was the Bible. I had read it cover-to-cover five times in my life. It was back in the teen years after I lost my dad and so much more. I came to really know Jesus reflected in the family of the teen boy who drove me home from work. He was sweet but wouldn’t give me the time of day if I didn’t love Jesus. And they took me in and helped show me His goodness.
There I was in my early 20s, about seven years and a lifetime away from the season with that family. I had explored so many other religions — looking for Him in other places and never finding Him. Always ending up in cul-de-sacs when I thought I had found a broad highway. And I was empty in the most important places. So I prayed just one more prayer. Sometimes it takes just that one prayer — the one where your heart cracks like the thin inner layer of a new egg. I was pecking from the inside and He was allowing the crack to reveal the whole world outside of what I had known.
So this couple my husband knew asks us to church. These friends whom I hadn’t known all that well, but was coming to know ask us to church. I start to go at just the right time — right before an avalanche hits my private life. I had no idea the smallest noise would set off destruction, but it did, and I was already in church, reading the Bible. And God was with me so I lived through it and it was the start of redemption.
Another pearl was strung.
Then this man asks me to attend their small group. He and his wife lead a group in their apartment and they sing songs I had never heard and they share the maturity they have in the Lord and they love one another in ways I didn’t know up to this time. And he is like a brother to me and he walks me through doubts and the hardest of questions. “Why did God allow my dad to go to hell?” “If He is so loving can’t He love him more than I do?” “Wouldn’t He save Him?” “Why was I so hurt all those years?” And he listens and doesn’t fix me and he shares his own dark night experiences and sends me to Peter in the Bible and is just present when no one else held that space in that way before.
He and that group — another pearl.
Then he tells me about the talks he attends at Biola where the great minds and hearts gather to talk of deeper things in the Lord, and I am so hungry and I go to the feast as often as I can. I eat all the savory offerings they spread before us and I am satisfied and hunger more. And I meet him – the teacher – who spoke soft and deep and true. The Socratic and the holy came from him and drew me inward and upward. He saw over big mountains and walked long and well in the love of God. So I become like a groupie and I follow him around to talks and events and weekends of connection.
And one day, I get the guts to ask him if he would refer me to a woman who knows how to walk well in the ways of spiritual discipline and discipleship. He pauses and I feel I have tread too far. How could I ask him such a thing, though he knew me? He was important and busy. I didn’t yet trust the lavish provisions of God Who showers goodness in buckets, not drops. The teacher says he is just thinking and he gives me her number. Yet it takes me two months to get up the guts to call her. I am so used to rejection and I need what she offers so deeply. Then I finally call and I meet her. We come together and uncork the past for sixteen years and God touches very broken places and healing comes along sort of while I’m not looking.
Pearl after pearl after pearl.
And now, there is fruit and a future. And God isn’t finished stringing pearls. He’s doing it in all our lives. We may not see it in the moment or the season, because honestly life doesn’t always feel like pearls are being strung out like a beautiful collection of treasure. But when we get those glimpses and we look back, we know.
Pearl after pearl from the Pearl of Great Price.
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