I will be with you always. — Jesus of Nazareth
“Your engagement ring is beautiful,” the manicurist said.
“Thank you,” I replied, attempting to still the butterflies that took flight every time I looked at it myself. “Today I add the wedding ring that matches it.” In a few hours my hand would blissfully declare that I was a married woman.
My mind drifted to memories of when I was a teenager and another ring that once occupied the same finger. A lovely opal ring I received from my mother on my sixteenth birthday. “I also have an opal ring that I cherish,” I explained, “but I lost it. I’d give anything to have it today as — something old’ for my wedding.”
“Don’t worry. These things have a way of turning up,” she offered. “I bet you’ll find it before the ceremony.”
“I don’t think so,” I said, chuckling. Years of relentless searching for the ring had always yielded nothing.
Several years before, while traveling, I had wrapped the ring in a tissue and tucked it into my suede purse for protection. Upon arriving home I rummaged through the purse for the ring, but it wasn’t there. After an hour of frantic searching every square inch of the purse — including ripping apart the lining — I had to accept the inevitable: the treasured ring was gone.
Over time, reminders of the ring would emerge and I’d drag the purse out of the closet. I’d fervently search again while praying, “Dear God, I cherish this sweet-sixteen birthday present from my mom. As a single parent this ring was a financial sacrifice for her. Please, I’m begging you — make it appear.” But it never did.
Each hunt for the ring proved fruitless, so I would toss the old and worn purse into the trash, but within minutes I always retrieved it. My dream was that one-day the ring would miraculously appear.
Examining my newly manicured nails, I turned my attention back to the present. “Soon I’ll have a glittering wedding ring, and I’ll never lose that one because it won’t ever leave my finger.” I smiled, content with the promise of what lay ahead rather than what was lost and behind me.
For a year and a half, married life was good. But the happiness was swiftly shattered when my husband announced that he wanted out of the marriage. Sorrow welled within me like a tidal wave, and the agony of removing my precious wedding ring was devastating. A barren hand was a constant reminder of my broken heart.
After weeping for months, I attempted to regain some normalcy by joining a friend on a shopping trip. That day, for some bizarre reason, I decided to use that old suede purse. I’m not certain why; perhaps it was a comforting reminder of sweeter times. I tossed my wallet, lipstick, and a few other items into the bag, and off we went.
While driving and chatting, I reached into the purse for a tissue. Feeling something strange inside the tattered tissue, imagine my shock when there lay my beloved opal ring. Bewildered and amazed, I laughed and cried at the same time. How did it get there? Why hadn’t I found it before? I couldn’t take my eyes off the ring. After years of hopeful searching, there it was. My friend watched in disbelief as she helped to keep the car on the road.
I slid the prized opal on my vacant, waiting finger. Like a mother tenderly drawing an injured child to her breast, the comfort of Jesus assured me, “I am betrothed to you forever. Others may desert you, but I’m your faithful Bridegroom. I will never abandon you. I have known since the beginning of time when your wounded heart would need this ring as a reassuring symbol of my love. I will never leave you, Laura, never.”
During a time when I felt so worthless and unlovable, how fitting that God would choose a ring as the portrayal of his faithfulness and steadfast love.
When I get to heaven and Jesus bestows my crown on me, I wonder if it will be adorned with opals. Regardless, in humble gratitude I’ll bow and lay those beautiful gems at his feet. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4 NASB).
Read more about Laura at www.laurapetherbridge.com.
Copyright © 2005 by Laura Petherbridge. Used with Permission.
Author, speaker and teacher Laura Petherbridge has encouraged listeners at conferences and retreats for more than a decade. A noted communicator to women, singles, and married couples she laces her presentations with real life insights that are designed to instruct, inspire and entertain.
Her new book, When Your Marriage Dies — Answers To Questions About Separation and Divorce, published by Cook Communications will be available May 2005. This divorce recovery guide, endorsed by Gigi Graham and Dr. Archibald Hart, senior professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, is written in a straightforward and conversational format that will aid the reader with a variety of issues including: stages of loss, children, finances, dating, lonliness, reconciliation, forgiveness and more.