One Ring to Rule Them All?

ring

RENEE MATHIS|GUEST

While not as heartbreakingly tragic as The Pearl or as deceptively tempting as “The Necklace,” or even as fraught with good and evil as The Lord of the Rings, my tale of jewelry is one that has caused more than a few tears.

Despite what all the bridal magazines said he “should” spend on an engagement ring, Steve and I kept our tastes simple, as befits a graduate student with a limited savings account. It didn’t matter that the diamond in the center wasn’t much bigger than the accent stones on either side. The branch and leaf design swirled around them in a graceful, beautiful setting.

Fast forward a few years. In the parking lot of a McDonalds, two toddlers in tow, I looked down only to see the center diamond was gone.  I was pretty calm about the whole thing (lack of sleep and toddlers…) but I had to admit the ring sort of had that “hockey player with a tooth missing” appearance.  Another baby and a few (ok a lot) more pounds later, and my ring didn’t even fit. We found a jeweler to replace the missing gem with a synthetic stone, then enlarge and solder the wedding and engagement bands together. Call me old fashioned, but being a mom of five, having that proof of marriage on my left hand was important!

Our marriage and family was doing great. My ring? Not so much. A few years down the road the band, enlarged beyond its capacity to withstand the stress of my life, had split in two. The synthetic stone was cloudy and dull. My symbol of our undying love had …died.

Giving up, I began wearing a silver hammered-heart, a purchase from an anniversary trip, because gosh-darnit- I’m married! That left hand needs a ring!

A few years later, Steve and I decided to stop by a jewelry store one night and buy an actual wedding band. A nice, conservative, gold, “yes this is a wedding ring,” band. It may not have been the most romantic purchase, but I was thankful.

Steve had other ideas. Unbeknownst to me, he took my broken, sorry original set and found a jeweler. For my 50th birthday he presented me with my original ring, repaired, shiny, and featuring a lovely new diamond. While the ring itself was a thing of beauty, what meant even more was his effort and generosity. He showed his love for me in a tangible, meaningful way. It cost him something.

Can we stop here for a minute and discuss gifts? Because gifts are my love language. My favorite verses are all about the Lord giving gifts to men and the Holy Spirt giving us gifts and how God himself is the giver of all good gifts. When I unwrapped my new ring and realized what a gift my husband had given me, what he had sacrificed to see the smile on my face, I felt undone. How could someone who knew me so well still love me so much?

Which brings me to last Wednesday. I left hot and humid Houston to travel to Chattanooga, TN for the fall Board meeting at Covenant College. I boarded the plane and buckled in, thinking of the days ahead and the chance to participate in the work of Christian higher education. And then I looked down at my hands. My empty left hand. The ring-less left ring finger. Shock, horror, fear, despair – you name it–all flooded over me as I realized what I had lost. Grief, tears, and a quick phone call to my calm and steady husband resulted in promises to scour the house and car. Sweet friends promised to pray. My Bible reading for the day offered the comfort from Jeremiah that “nothing is too hard for me, declares the Lord.” Even revealing the location of lost rings?

And what if I never found them? I was now 800 miles away and could not even add my own efforts to the search. What good could possibly come of such a hard providence? Simply this: God’s good gifts. Because I found myself in a place where I could do nothing about my own problems, I opened my eyes to what the Lord was doing right where I was. How tenderly and kindly He offered me:

-an understanding husband

-friends whose prayers resulted in my peace, not distress

-a place of beauty, fall color blazing through the trees (quite different than what I was used to back home!)

-a connection with a fellow teacher who also rejoices in working with image bearers in the classroom

-a visit with two dear friends who, between them have 15 children and who neither currently wears a wedding ring. (Ok, Lord, I get it!)

-sweet hugs and visits from daughters and grandchildren

-a chapel talk from one mother’s heart to another that reminded me of the fragility of human life compared to the power of the gospel

-the chance to lift my voice in praise as we sang my favorite hymn “How deep the father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give his only son, to make a wretch his treasure.”

My lost rings— yes still missing— were a beautiful sign of an earthly covenant.  However, they also serve to point me to another covenant and another wedding.

The earthly sacrifice that paid for my gift pales in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice given by Christ for His bride. When the two are reunited and dwell together for all eternity, even “the (diamonds) of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

2016_jan_renee-2aRenee Mathis attends Christ Church PCA in Katy, Texas. She serves on the women’s ministry team, as a regional advisor for the PCA women’s ministry, and an advisory board member for Covenant College. When she’s not enjoying her 5 children and 6 grandchildren, she teaches English, reads books, and drinks coffee.  

 

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