I was so lucky yesterday to be able to stay home, curl up in my new electric sofa blanket (thanks Libby) and catch up on some reading and un-opened emails.
Pam Stewart, a member of our Sunday School class, shared a story (the other Sunday) about a family she knew that touched all us listeners.
When we hear stories about an “impossible or at least improbable” situation changing others’ lives… have you noticed that it changes ours too…re-enforcing the “surprise” element of God’s power.
Pam had sent the story (upon my request) via email to me while I was at Pawleys Island and when I re-read it …I knew it needed to be shared.
Perhaps the best title for Pam’s story would simply be…
“The Wedding Ring”
Several years ago there was a tragic crash at a tiny airport in a small southern town. The pilot, as well as the other three passengers in the plane, were killed.
Reeling from the shock of the terrible news over the lost of their loved one… the families began arriving to look for personal items as keepsakes. Three of these families were able to find their loved one’s wedding ring.
But one family had no such luck. As hard as they tried…no wedding ring appeared.
Years went by and the daughter of the pilot (whose wedding band was never found) became more and more determined to find her father’s band to giver her mother. Even though she lived out of town she began making secret trips to the airport time and time again…without success.
The daughter then asked her brother to join her in the quest and while on one of their searches… they found it! It was hardly recognizable…it was broken into pieces of gold scattered in every direction.
They gathered every bit they could find and secretly had a new wedding ring made for their mother… using as much of the gold as possible. There was just a little left over…which they gave their mother to sustain her while the surprise wedding ring was being made.
The sister and brother could hardly contain themselves the day the ring was ready for her. The mother was completely overwhelmed with emotion when she heard the story of the perseverance behind her two children’s quest for the “gold.”
However, the story doesn’t end there…(like an O’Henry twist ending…in this slightly different version of “The Gift of the Magi”) the mother had taken the pieces of gold her children had given her earlier and made mementos for her son and daughter to keep in memory of their father. Now everyone had a piece of their father to keep with them at all times.
Every month, as a subscriber to Guidepost’s Mysterious Ways, I receive a story of the month. As I began reading the story yesterday I thought to myself that this particular narrative compliments Pam’s story with its central theme of the jarring realization that God loves surprises too… and is quite willing to share them with us.
God’s surprises show up in all kinds of different forms and media…in this story…it is a painting that connects God to a troubled young father.
When the story begins…a young husband and father is sitting in the hospital room with his wife who has just miscarried. The baby would have been their fourth child. Now neither parent was sure if there would ever be another child.
Despondent, the father left the room and wandered listlessly down the hospital halls… finally stopping in front of a beach painting showing a happy family with four children playing near the water.
Would their family ever have the fourth child he and his wife had hoped to have? It was then he heard it (he later told his wife)…it was like a thought with a voice assuring him that they would have four children.
The father returned upbeat and at peace….less than a year later they were back at the hospital…this time holding their fourth child Joseph. Everything was back on track…or was it?
The father began losing weight for no reason and feeling a sense of daily exhaustion…his face grew gaunt. Testing began and the diagnosis was Graves disease…an overactive thyroid. With a non-invasive procedure to remove certain harmones the outcome looked promising…it was not the cancer they had feared.
So on the day of the procedure the father went alone while the mother stayed home to keep the four small children. When he returned home he acted like a different man…upbeat and happy… and already filled with vigor on his gaunt frame she hadn’t seen in awhile.
He told his wife that he wandered down the hospital hall where the beach painting was (before his procedure) and studied the painting in more detail. In it…the father is holding the youngest child on his shoulders.
At that moment he heard the voice again….”Soon, you too will be strong enough to hold your child on your shoulders.” Twice the “painting” had comforted him in his time of need and he knew whose voice he heard.
Since the father’s birthday was nearing…his wife decided to surprise him by buying the painting and giving it to him for this special occasion.
The hospital gave her the name of the artist and she contacted her. There was no second copy of the painting the artist told her since each drawing was unique unto itself…an original.
The artist went on to describe the family she drew for that particular beach scene and added that the little boy on the father’s shoulders was named Joseph.
The wife almost dropped the phone before letting the artist know that her youngest child was also named Joseph. The artist sold painting to her immediately….replacing another painting on the hospital wall.
*(Readers…you aren’t going to believe this last connection…but here we go with the conclusion of the story)
After her husband’s health improved the family went to Pawley’s Island in South Carolina where they took a photo of the family… as drawn in the painting with little Joseph on his father’s shoulders!
(Can you believe that….Pawleys Island!) The author/ wife Ann Mulligan-“Promise of the Painting”- is from Dearborn, Michigan where the family lives and they vacation at Pawleys Island? Surprising connections!)
So until tomorrow….Let us be ever mindful of the wonderful surprises God plans for us…if we just keep our eyes open to His mysterious ways.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* Yesterday was Jakie’s 5th month birthday….five months since our shared birthday (Sept 24)….my birthday has a 5 in it too….and another number in front of that….Ummmm!
“Surprising Connections“- it is quite miraculous that Rudy ( being an older dog) was able to return home again and surprisingly connect again with Kaitlyn, Tommy, and Atticus.