Thursday, November 12, 2009

Silver plated flatware
I am in the midst of studying Isaiah. Part of Chapter 2 reads: Come house of Jacob and let us walk in the light of the LORD, for Thou has abandoned thy people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with influences from the east.. soothsayers, agreements with foreigners, their land is filled with silver and gold, with horses and chariots with idols and the work of their hands, and there is no end to their treasures..

Three weeks ago while walking with Ma Grace, we happened upon Bob Bates driving his car past Eleanor Peabody’s home. Eleanor was a faithful w'elcomer' at Bible study and neighbor with a ready smile. She died recently and Valerie, Bob’s wife does estate sales so she was inside pricing items. Bob invited us to go and say hello and my mom and I smelling possible treasure went inside. Valerie graciously invited us to look around and find some goodies. So we did. I bought a covered dish and a doily and my mom got some glass ware. We were there about 40 minutes trying on silly hats, shuffling through linens and looking at all the trinkets that 9 decades accumulates. In the kitchen glassware galore framed Val who was sprawled into a baseboard cupboard retrieving things from the recesses of a corner. As I walked through the dining room a box caught my eye. I opened it and there was a lovely silver plated set of flatware. It had a delicate floral pattern at the ends and stately handles. I liked the set but didn’t think too long about it because I have flatware. We made some small purchases and went on our way.

Later at home I realized, I had a strong attraction towards that little flatware set. I am not easily grabbed by material things. I have nice jewelry and a nice car and a nice home mostly because Fred loves to adorn me. That is nice and I feel very well taken care of but don’t find myself lusting over THINGS. But this little set grabbed my heart and I thought, “Its only $30.00 – I am going to buy it!” I called and left a voice message for Valerie asking her to hold it for me.

As I drove over I saw Carla Lowinger’s car in the driveway. Oh how fun I thought. I went up to the door and said, “Oh, look Carla you bought some fun hats! Aren’t those great…Valerie, I’ve come for the silver.” Slowly and reluctantly Val said, “Oh its already been bought." “ARGHHHHHH," I thought and then Carla said “Why did you want it?”
“Because it was one of the prettiest sets I had ever seen and it just grabbed me.”
Carla said, “Oh I just bought it for a friend who has nothing.”
“Well, then I can give her my set at home and I will buy it from you Carla. “
“But I already texted her”
I tried again..."But she doesn’t know what it looks like?” Then I realized. That silver HAD grabbed me. It had grabbed my heart and it wasn’t about to let go easily. It was already putting down roots twisting tendrils into my affections. That is when Carla said, “We’ll talk about it later.”I waited at her car, hoping to be able to persuade her to let me buy it, but when she had finished with Valerie she waved me on and said, “I’ll call you.”
I got into my car and began to berate myself for not having come sooner; why didn’t I go back right away or tell Valerie to hold it when I first saw it? Well maybe Carla’s’ friend wouldn’t want it.. then it dawned on me again, the silver had grabbed my heart.

There are 2 things anyone can do when thirsty roots reach into the heart. Accept those roots and welcome the thing, making room for the thing to dictate my affections and attention towards it, OR cut the thing off when I realize it comes with its monster roots. The last time I remember such a desire for something was when I became infatuated with Fred and had to back off and give him back to God. It was not until I had balanced my expectations that I think God was able to open the possibility of a long relationship.NOT that this silver holds a candle to Fred: THAT is just the last time I remember feeling SOOO desirous of something. (likely there have been many other instances but my selective memory is convenient right now)

So I prayed out loud to God and confessed my lust for the silver. Confessed that it was trying to get a hold of my affections and that I didn’t want anything to replace or take His place in my heart. Certainly not silver. I wanted to be free of it.
For the next days I struggled hoping that Carla would call. Then I thought, “No, even if the silver were to come to me I would refuse it because I don’t want my heart to allow for any roots to take hold there. On Sunday when the offering baskets came by I purposefully put in 3 times the price of the silver because I wanted to let God know I was serious about letting it go. Carla never called.

Three weeks passed and I didn’t hear any more on the silver. Because my soul had been churned, I did tell Fred and my mom and Fred’s mom and Terri and Abby and Carol and my bible study ladies. I felt it had been a test and it so related to the things I was studying in Isaiah about how Israel was not to trust in religious trappings nor horses, nor allies, nor silver etc.
I told the bible study group that even if it were to come back to me I would refuse it -so I could make sure my heart was free of it… After the lecture Verna Gruendyke came up to me and said. “Honey I want you to consider that God may still give you that silverware. Think of how you could tell the story of how God brought it to you if it did somehow come back to you.”In my heart I thought, “No, I wouldn’t want it. I want to be free from it and the desire for it.”
Three weeks passed. I got the idea to have a hat day at bible study and so I thought I would borrow the crazy hats that Carla had bought as a teaser for the announcement. I stopped by her house and she had me come in. She dusted off the boxes and handed me the hats to borrow. I walked to my car determining not to even mention the silver. As far as I could tell I was free from it. Then she said, “Just a minute, I have one more thing.”She walked to her garage and reappeared with a large old wooden box.
“I want you to have this” she began, “Because you told me that it had grabbed you, I thought, 'Oh, I can do something for my friend Mina who has been so kind and loving to me', when I saw how you wanted it, I knew that is what I wanted to do and I was going to put a big red bow on it to give it to you but since you are here …"I teared up and said, “OH Carla that is so kind of you but I CANT have it.”
She said, “You MUST have it.”
I told her to sit down and told her my struggle and how I had prayed to be free of it and that I had even told my bible study group that I wouldn't take it and about Verna’s comment. Carla listened with her eyes moistening and said, “Well see then it is meant for you, because I wanted to give it to you since that day but I hadn't been able to prepare it for you. You will be able to tell this story to your many guests as they eat with it. You MUST have it.
And besides you had another advocate too. Your mother in law called and asked if I could tell her the pattern of the silver so SHE could buy it for you for Christmas. When she called she said, 'You know Mina wants for nothing and this was something that caught her eye and I want to get it for her.' She came over and took a picture of it so she could find the exact set. But I told her I would be delighted to give you THIS set. So see you were meant to have it!"
Carla was beaming with delight as I choked back more tears. "And I am so glad to be a part of it!" I put down the hat boxes and embraced her long and hard. I didn’t feel lust towards the silver any longer- honestly, I felt awe that God would see fit to gift me with this. I felt like he was communicating...
“Its ok, I see your heart, I see that you want to be fully mine and so I give this to you as a token of your progressive sanctification. I will complete the work that has begun in you. This silver is from me.. Enjoy it, remember I know you and I love you."
I asked Carla if I could open the box. I lifted the lid cautiously and sure enough there it was. Delightful to my eyes. Probably not a hugely expensive or rare set but one that brought me delight, and more so now that I knew it had been preserved through my days of struggling.
I was going to get it one way or another if my loved ones had anything to do with it. I was glad to see how God worked it out
Thank you God. May I not doubt your interest and care for me.