She never bought jewelry for herself. Oh, it was nice to be able to wear it sometimes. Every piece that she owned had value because it had been given to her. That included, of course, her engagement ring.
He’d handed her a flower that day, joy forever etched in memory. In the flower was the ring. She’d been expecting it, but it was still a surprise to see the glint within the petals. And there he was on one knee grinning at her, the young blonde musician, full of hope. She said yes.
Years passed. He wrote songs for her on his guitar. They grew. The ring went on all their travels together, through love and arguments, through mud and soap, scraping against the keys to their first house and first car, stuck on swollen fingers of pregnancy, worn through sickness and health, richer and poorer…
In the midst of hospital work, diapers at home and nursing school, she decided that it would be safer to tuck the ring away. She kept a simple gold wedding band on her finger, but the poky diamond solitaire was too much of a liability. Some of the prongs holding the rock were bent. So it went to live in a little box, nestled next to her late grandmother’s ring on the shelf. Her life bustled on.
Several years passed. The family grew. They had a few children now. It was the time annually when they normally drew in their belts, paid some yearly bills, planned for school shopping, and prayed nothing big would break. But the minivan broke anyway. Actually both of their minivans did, on the highway, one hundred miles from home, within minutes of each other. It was a Sunday afternoon; not many mechanics were available. Her husband tenaciously tinkered inside the hood of one before crawling under the other. It took several tense hours lying on the hot cracked asphalt of a deserted parking lot, with tired kids and a worried wife andhungry baby milling around him, but he managed to stick the muffler and tail pipe back on one van with a little ingenuity and a lot of sweat. The other van had be left to wait for more expensive repairs and another day.
They made it home eventually. But repairs took the last breathing space out of their budget. Every bit of his income was already spoken for. Sorting through bills felt a bit like drowning; they were getting behind. What could they do; choose between groceries or the mortgage? Husband and wife scoured the house looking for anything of value that could be helpful. There were few things that would bring more than a handful of change at a yard sale. What little they had was second hand and quite necessary. They only found two things of any worth.
They were simply objects, but both reminded them of priceless memories. The guitar was used for worship music at church, and putting melody to thoughts at home. The ring was the first symbol of their marriage. God had done financial miracles in their life before. They prayed for another. But money didn’t fall from the sky this time. The bills didn’t miraculously disappear. Were their prayers for help not reaching heaven? Was something amiss in their life? Was it true that God only helps those who help themselves? Was this their help?
The ring went to a pawn shop. The guitar, to Ebay.
Once committed, they breathed freely. There was nothing else. Nothing to come between them and God. Their need was all up to Him to meet now.
Of course, God did.
The guitar sold. In the quiet, he taught himself to play piano. Months later, he found a new guitar at a good price.
Her ring wasn’t worth a great deal to anyone else. After trying several shops, it was returned to its place on the shelf.
But the mortgage got paid. Groceries were bought. They thanked God anew.
Sometimes little things can block our view of great big God. Sometimes He is more honored to hear silence than the music of worship. Sometimes we need to give up everything we consider valuable so that we can gain some real treasure.
Sometimes it is a real sacrifice to thank Him in the midst of distress.
These times are the most important times to do it.
Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me. – Psalm 50:23
God didn’t help them because they helped themselves. He didn’t want to “help”. What value would they assign Him if He was merely helping them to do it? God wanted to do it all. Once the obstacles were removed from their view, He did. God gives the best gifts.