I felt as though lava was searing my heart as I stood and gaped at my mother-in-law. She’d just told me that she had sold all my worldly possessions. Four years earlier, when we’d left for our overseas assignment, I’d sorted through my things and packed them away until our return. Where a pile of forty boxes filled with lifetime treasures had sat were now two lonely crates of wedding dishes atop a box of old John Denver records. I felt my world melting around me.
We’d just arrived home for a furlough. My mother-in-law was trying to create a “home” for our family by cleaning out her basement storage space and setting up beds. In doing so she’d sold all my “stuff.” I felt as though I was sitting in a bonfire; my memories were reduced to ashes, my heart was singed and hot flames lapped at my faith in a good God.
I grieved for my lost sweaters, skiwear, old baby clothes and treasured books. But these became mere flesh wounds when I found out a lifetime of heirloom Christmas ornaments were among the ashes. Every year, my mother had presented me with a tiny ornament, something unique that represented a phase or an accomplishment in my life. Thirty years of love had been sold for a dollar. In a blaze of anguish, I cried out to the One who is sovereign over my life.
“God! How could You do this to me? Don’t you love me? Is this how You take care of me?
Silence was the reply. Swimming through my grief, I searched for answers. Part of me was ashamed that I held so tightly to the “things of this world,” but a bigger part was raw with hurt that God had “let me down.”
Finally, one night I had it out with the Almighty. “I thought we had a deal.” I said. “I work for You and You provide for me.” Like a storm, a voice thundered in my soul. “No deals,” It said. Perplexed, I asked, “Then what do I get?” Silence enfolded me. Then, suddenly like a flood, the answer poured through my mind and heart. “ME.” And I understood anew the Pearl of Great Price. I get salvation. I get hope. I get purpose and meaning to life and then eternity in paradise with Christ.
Shame engulfed me and humility drove me to my knees. “Oh God,” I cried, “I see now that I have been storing up my treasures in my mother-in-law’s basement and not in You. I’d been pining away for my things for four years, waiting to fall upon them like a soft cushion. But in thinking that they could be my comfort and my strength, I have denied You that privilege and me that blessing. Please forgive my idolatry.”
Like a spring shower in a parched land, I was forgiven and began to heal.
But, the biggest sore was still open, raw and angry with infection. My Christmas ornaments. I put up my tree and its green arms looked naked against the white lights. Where was the golden star with my name etched on it, or the tiny angel skier I’d received my first year on skis? I missed my tiny roller skates and the little porcelain piano. Memories from my childhood, gone forever. How could God replace those? How could He possibly heal me? Would He even care?
“Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.” The verse echoed in my head and I covered my ears. What if He didn’t listen? What if He laughed at the insignificance of it all?
I should have known better. My history with God was rich with moments of His touch on my life. He’d provided babysitters when I was exhausted and time alone with my husband when I was lonely. I should have remembered that God does care about our most intimate needs and wants to touch us where we hurt.
But I was too busy doubting Him and didn’t expect the blindside embrace. It was wrapped in glittering green paper and bound with a red velvet bow. Friends at a Christmas party gathered around me and witnessed the moment when God met my deepest need. As I opened the box and gaped at the assortment of Christmas ornaments lovingly gathered by our church, the Great Physician reached out and healed the gaping sore. His gentle touch filled me with love and in that moment, He gave me Everlasting Ornaments.
This article is a classic originally published in our early print magazines.