Ever hear advice and think, “That’s nice but it doesn’t pertain to me“? Me too! Ever been wrong? Me too!
A few weeks ago a man told a story in church that went like this:
A little girl was at the store with her dad when she spotted a string of fake pearls and begged her dad to buy them for her. They were only $2 so he agreed. She loved the pearls and wore them everywhere (to school, to play, to bed, to shower, everywhere). She wore them so much that they got worn out and chipped but she continued to wear them anyways.
One night her dad came to tuck her in and asked “Sweetheart, will you give me your pearls?” The little girl said no, of course, because she didn’t want to give them up because she loved them so much. Weeks went by and again her day asked “Sweetheart, will you give me your pearls?” Again she said no.
This happened again and again and again until finally one time when the dad said “Sweetheart, will you give me your pearls?”, the daughter finally reluctantly handed over the pearls. The dad took a box from his pocket and handed it to her. She opened it and could not believe that it was a brand new beautiful string of REAL pearls. He had had them the entire time and was just waiting for her to relinquish the old dirty pearls to give her this treasure.
When I heard this story, I was stubborn. My mind immediately flashed to a part of my life that I knew might be the “old pearls” that I needed to give over to God but I quickly quieted that voice inside my head. Surely, I thought, if there was something in my life that was the old dirty pearls, I would relinquish it to God without a second thought. I was wrong.
It is not that easy! Even now, I feel like I’m ten seconds from snatching back the pearls I finally admitted were old. It’s actually really unimaginably impossibly hard to hand them over. Like cry on the floor, want to scream, can’t breathe, can’t move kind of hard.
My boyfriend is not my boyfriend anymore. He was my old pearls. My beautiful and godly boyfriend, who was so right in so many ways but so wrong in one crucial way. My boyfriend who sat up nights with me discussing our kids and our house and our futures, who just the other day was reading to me from a pre-marital counseling book. That relationship was what I needed to lay at God’s feet and, believe me, I kicked and screamed (metaphorically) trying to hold on before I finally relinquished it.
What they never said in the story is that God’s not always ready with the strand of real pearls right away and, perhaps worse, we don’t know what the new pearls look like yet. What they also don’t say is that in the meantime, we will suffer and it’s going to suck (sorry, there’s no better word). All we can do is have faith that the real pearls are out there and God will give them to us in his perfect timing.