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Sunday, March 17, 2013

and to think I almost skipped church today

Today, my pastor told a story about a very young girl who was beguiled by a string of plastic pearls she saw at the Dollar Store.

"They were awful and cheap," said Jim. "And her mother refused to pay for them---she told her daughter that if she really wanted them, she'd have to save her own money." 

So the little girl saved and saved. Did chores for her grandmother for quarters and dimes. She placed each coin carefully, studiously into her piggy bank. Until finally one day she had enough money to purchase her beads. 

And was she ever the classiest little lady you ever did see. Audrey Hepburn in plastic. Wore the beads everywhere. Playing outside, helping her mom in the kitchen, in the bathtub---you name it. 

And though they began to rot (as you can imagine) after a few weeks of wear,  she didn’t care. They were lovely, and they were hers. 

One night when her father was tucking the little girl into bed, he asked her if she loved him. 

“Of course I do, daddy! You know I do!”

“Alright, if you love me, then give me your beads,” the father said to her.

“Oh, no,” said the girl. “I couldn’t do that. I feel so pretty in them.”

The father smiled and kissed her goodnight, still loving her in the same way. This pattern continued several times. The father would tell the little girl that if she loved him, to give her the beads. And the little girl would, however excusably, refuse.

One day the little girl walked into her father’s study.

“You know what, Daddy?” she said, her hands shaking and glassy tears collecting in her young eyes. “I do love you. And I want you to have these beads.”

She extended her small hand into his, and her father said nothing as he simply placed the beads into his pants pocket. 

She was stunned, devastated. All of her work, all of her wear went into those beads...How could he ask her to sacrifice her most prized possession?

But before the little girl could muster herself out of shock to begin to cry, her father smiled. He reached into his top desk drawer and pulled out a red, velvet bag.

Inside the bag was a strand of gorgeous, real pearls.

And I’ve never been more thankful that I typically go to church alone because I cried for that loving father and the lesson that little girl learned.

I realized that I have several strands of cheap, plastic beads that I covet around my neck. They are my romantic relationships. They are how I spend my money.

Some of them are more than a rotting strand of pearls, they’re like those spiked dog collars. More than a millstone, they’re utter destruction.

But, I love them. I worked hard for them. And honestly, I’m frightened to death of what my life would look like without them. They're mine after all. 

But I also know enough about God to know that there is a beautiful treasure, a string of pearls he has reserved just for me. I just have to forego those plastic beads at His feet once and for all. 

Ladies, what plastic beads do you have in your life? Are you afraid of what your life would look like without them? If you gave them up, how would you be hindered? How would you be blessed? 

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