The Day I Lost My Wedding Ring
I never thought it would happen to me, but yes, I lost my wedding ring. It only took approximately 17 years and six months to happen. I seldom take it off and so I was convinced I would never lose it. I had heard strange stories about other people losing their wedding rings, but not me.
Then it happened. I was exercising at the gym and my wedding ring, actually a wedding band, was hurting me as I lifted weights. Not that I lift anything significant. So, against my better judgement, I took it off and put it with my car keys by hooking it onto the foot of my fluffy zebra key ring that my daughter gave me. I was the only one in the gym and there was no way I was going to forget it with my car keys. My wife was busy doing aerobics in the hall next door. As we rode off back home I suddenly realised with horror that my ring was not on my finger or on my car keys. We turned back, but I was not too worried because I was the only one in the gym and I could trace my steps quite easily.
Still Lost And Not Found
So there I was, along with my wife and the gym instructor, on our hands and knees searching the gym floor. I thought of the Bible parable in Luke 15 where the widow loses her coin and searches the whole house and finds it. I was convinced that at any moment either I would see a literal glitter of gold amongst the cold, grey steel of the gym weights, or someone would shout, “Found it.” But no such luck. We kept on searching. Again and again I would check places I had already checked. I started to think about the parable of the lost coin and how it illustrates Jesus having found the ‘lost’. The song Amazing Grace started playing in my head, “I once was lost, but now am found.”
Two hours later my ring was still lost and not found. I started to reason with myself that it wasn’t a very expensive wedding band. I could probably go out right now and buy an even better, more expensive one without the blink of an eye. Yet, it would never be my wedding ring. After two and a half hours I stood up off the floor. I had given up, my ring was lost.
My wife and I drove home, the whole way I was figuratively kicking myself. How could I have been so stupid? My wife reassured me that it was only a ring, but I kept on thinking about the parable of the lost coin, as well as the parable about the lost sheep, which is also found in Luke 15. I wondered how long would God search for me if I were lost? Two and a half hours? Maybe two and a half days? Would He give up and say to Jesus that it’s of no use, that this one is truly lost so let’s just call it quits? An interesting side thought is that if something is ‘lost’ is implies it must have a home. ‘Home’ does not imply a ‘homeless’ person, but that they belong somewhere.
We serve an all-mighty and all-loving God. It is not by chance that He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). It is a sure promise that cannot be broken, when God promises that He will cover you with His feathers and keep you safe under His wings (Psalm 91:4). Just before His crucifixion, when Jesus was praying to God the Father, He says that those disciples the Father gave Him, He has looked after and has lost none (John 17:12).
Our Destiny In God’s Hands
We all at some time or another go through periods in our lives where we think we are lost, or are not going to make it. Or we might think that because a friend has turned their back on God that there is no more hope for them. A little while ago I was speaking to a pastor who believes that we can literally be responsible for someone being lost. That somehow other people’s eternal lives are in our hands. I prefer to believe, as per the scriptures, that our destiny, along with that of the entire universe, is held tightly in the hands of the Almighty God. True, we are sometimes guilty of chasing people out of the church, or deeply offending people so that they never set a foot in a church again. But thankfully, it is the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, all-forgiving, Shepherd that goes and finds that lost sheep and lovingly puts it on his shoulders and carries it back to the fold. In fact, it is not ‘that’ sheep, but ‘my’ sheep and ‘my’ coin and ‘my’ son. That is precisely what God says to us, “You are mine!” (Isaiah 43:1) “You are my son, my daughter” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
I have often heard sermons about Jesus standing outside the door of our heart and knocking, waiting patiently for us to open up and let Him in. This may be true, but I personally like the image where Jesus deliberately goes out and finds us. This imagery is very powerful in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), where God the Father, seeing his son (you and me) afar off, doesn’t patiently wait but runs to meet us and hug us and embrace us. Also in the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin both the woman and the shepherd don’t waste any time. They use their initiative and immediately go in search of that which they have lost. And, more importantly, they don’t give up until they have found what was lost. Here the word ‘until’ is very important and implies ‘unwearied persistence, perseverance’ (Luke 15:4, 8).
We misunderstand true grace and misrepresent the loving Triune God when we think God is out to get us, or He can’t save someone, or that maybe my sin is just too big for even Jesus’ sacrifice to cover and pardon.
A few days after I lost my wedding ring I received a phone call from the gym instructor. Someone had found my ring. It is difficult to explain in words how absolutely thrilled I was. I had offered a reward and initially the person did not want to take it, but what price could I truly place on my wedding ring? She had found it in the grass just outside of the front door. In a similar, but much greater sense God paid the greatest ransom, or reward, everything He had, to buy us back.
The other day, my wife and I were driving in the open countryside far from anywhere, with my ring snugly back on my finger. We stopped on the side of the road to swop drivers. As we walked behind the car a glint of gold caught my eye. There in the dusty, gravel next to the road lay a wedding ring. It seemed weird, especially after my ordeal, but this one had a less happy ending. The gold band was badly damaged and the setting for a big diamond was empty. I don’t know the story of that lost ring, but God does. In the same way He intimately knows each and every detail of our story. He knows where we are, if we are damaged and how to polish us up so that we once again shine brightly.
It has been said that nearly all of the gold throughout mankind’s history is still in circulation. You may be wearing a gold ring, that four hundred years ago, was gold in a nobleman’s chain. Gold, although it will take a very long time, will eventually stain, perish or just simply be lost, but not the gold (you and me) that is in the crown of the King of Heaven. He loves us too deeply and we are too valuable to Him. He will never take you off His finger even for the briefest of moments.