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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holy Ghost Story #3

It's that time again. One more Holy Ghost story told at our all-family Advent gathering tonight.

If you are close enough to see me, you can tell what this is on my wrist. Who knows what this is? Yes, it's a bracelet. What kind of bracelet? A pearl bracelet, right. And see these: matching pearl earrings. Those are going to be important in this story. This is a Holy Ghost story, and it's also a prayer story.

This one began some years ago when I was in a Bible study led by Mrs. Drake. We were studying the book of Matthew. You know that the book of Matthew tells about Jesus' life. Remember that Jesus told stories? They were called parables. Well, in the book of Matthew there are two short parables recorded that kind of go along with one another. They're so short they are barely more than a sentence each. The first one says the kingdom of heaven is like treasure buried in a field, and when a man found the treasure he gave up everything he had to buy the field and own the treasure. That's what God is like: so important we should give up everything to know him. The second parable is like the first, but it turns things around. This one says the kingdom of God is like a merchant who finds a pearl of great value. The merchant wants the pearl so badly that he gives up everything to own it.

What we realized in that study is the the treasure refers to God, but the precious pearl refers to us. Jesus was like the merchant, who gave up everything when he died for us, in order to have us. Well that parable really impacted me. I mean, I knew that God was something wonderful and desirable, and that I should want him more than anything else. But I had really never realized that in God's eyes, I was also something wonderful and desirable, so that when he gave up everything to have me, it was because he really, really wanted to! That's how God sees us, as something really beautiful and desirable, so much that he would die for us. We are his precious pearls.

When I realized that, I got so excited by it that I talked about it and talked about it and talked about it for weeks. I told everyone I came across about this new understanding. So when Christmas that year came around, Mr. Cochrane (my husband) gave me these pearls as a gift, because the symbol of the pearl meant so much to me. And I loved the reminder that they are. So, remember that: precious pearls.

Now, on to the story. One time when we had a newborn baby (that would be Miriam), there was a party here at church. It was a luau. Do you know what a luau is? It's a Hawaiian party. It's lots of fun. It was outside on the lawn and I hadn't been out of the house in too long, so I really wanted to come. I got dressed up and I put on my pearls and we drove over here, and parked in the parking lot and walked through the building and out on the grass and talked to people. The Freelands were here then, and they were the ones giving the party. If you remember the Freelands, then you know they really liked to have fun, and at their parties, you don't sit around. You DO things. We talked and played games and did the limbo and had a buffet--which is a long table with food that you go to and then back to your seats. So we were all over this place for that party.

While we were there, Mrs. Perry told me a Holy Ghost story of her own. She said that she had been doing laundry recently--maybe even that day--and looked down to notice that the diamond was missing out of her ring. That's a very precious stone, like the precious pearl. She was just sure she had lost it forever, but she stopped right then and prayed, asking God to help her find her diamond. Then she went back to the laundry and found it--caught in the fabric of a piece of laundry. She was so thankful, and I was thankful for her!

After the party, we weren't quite ready to go home--well, I mean *I* wasn't ready to go home. So I rounded up about a half dozen more people and we went out downtown. We drove into downtown and parked, and we walked around town, and then we went to a tea house and had some tea together, and walked some more and then walked back to our cars and eventually went home.

When I went inside to take off my jewelry, though, I reached up to my pearl earring and found that one was missing! It had fallen off somewhere over the course of the night. I was so upset! My pearl was special and I thought of everywhere I'd been that night: East Asheville, North Asheville, in the building, in the parking lot, outside on the lawn, downtown--all over downtown, the tea house, the cars... How could I even know where to begin to look for that one tiny pearl earring in this whole city? I felt helpless. But I remembered Mrs. Perry's story and so I stopped right then, standing in front of my mirror, and prayed, "Father God, you know that this pearl means something to me. It reminds me of me and you. Please, God, I know you know where that pearl is. Would you please let me find it, like Jill found her diamond?"

And then I decided that all I could do was look around at home, because I couldn't go all over Asheville. I wasn't really expecting to find it, not really, even though I had prayed. But I went back out of the house, down the walkway to the driveway, and I opened the car door. And there, right on the front seat, in the very center of the front seat, as if it was just waiting for me, was my pearl earring. Right in plain sight.

And that's a Holy Ghost story.


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