Pearls or Plastic?

Every time we move between countries it is necessary to find a place to store our stuff until we get back.  Sometimes we loan it out.  Sometimes we rent a storage unit.  Sometimes we store half and loan half.  At any rate, we’ve learned to have a loose hold on our belongings because inevitably when we come back from home assignment, some of them are broken and some of them are missing.

Once when I returned to Brazil, I went to retrieve my kitchen items from the friend who had been subletting our house.  When I asked her about my containers for flour, sugar, rice, etc., she gave me a blank look and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”  Yet as I looked down I saw one of my containers on the floor being used for dog food.

I felt angry that she hadn’t told me the truth, but I also felt foolish for caring so much about a piece of plastic.  (I had brand new lids for that tupperware set tucked away in my luggage!) As I wrestled with my resentment toward her I sensed the Lord asking me to give her the lids.  “How, Lord? Wouldn’t that be the same as telling her I know she lied?” Still, I felt His still small voice saying, “Let them go.”  The next day, when I saw her, I swallowed my pride and said, “In case you find my containers, I’d like you to keep them.  And here are the tops that go with them.”

She smiled and proceeded to tell me that after I had left her house she had found a box of my personal items and wanted me to come look them over.  In the box was a red silk package containing a string of real pearls that my father (now deceased) had bought for me in China.  That necklace meant more to me than all the kitchen utensils in the world!  When I think how I could have missed out on getting them back by being stingy and mean-spirited, I praise God for helping me to release my silly wishes.  He had something far better in mind for me.

Twenty-eight years ago I wanted to go to China as a single missionary, but when I gave up my “dream”, the Lord brought Dan Owsley and Brazil into my life.  So much better than what I thought I wanted!  This story has repeated itself many times through the years.  Whenever I think I’m “giving up” something for the Lord, He shows me that it was nothing (just plastic!) compared to the pearls He has planned for me.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor 2:9)

12 thoughts on “Pearls or Plastic?

  1. How I relate to what you are saying! Even now when I think of what happened to some of my possessions, I’m reminded that those things are only things and they don’t really matter. Thanks for sharing your “Pearls or Plastic.”

  2. You, dear Hope , are the real gem in this story. Thank you for once again moving me with your honesty and candor, and for highlighting the importance of holding lightly to material things (stuff) and tightly to what is eternal.

  3. Hi Hope, Your message about the “pearls” was powerful. Larry and I went through that same feeling almost 20 years ago now when we lost our home, and ALL of our belongings in the fire. All of the material “stuff” in the world can be replaced but having God in our lives is the only things that matters. I pray for God to continually bless you! Lorna

  4. How beautiful, Hope. What a good reminder to keep our treasures in Heaven. As my husband faces serious illness, Heaven is becoming ever more important to us.

  5. Wonderful lesson, Hope! We will probably never know how many blessings we miss because our focus is on things that don’t matter.

  6. I am so glad you wrote this message. It strongly reminds me as I look back over my life how many times and creative ways God has answered my cry. To wait patiently on the Lord, as he gives us the desires of our heart.

  7. Priceless. As we unpack our stuff after 4 and 1/2 months I wonder why I kept so much junk. I thought that we got rid of stuff. I guess when you live without you really get a reality of how little you need. I am loving having a dresser again.

  8. Thanks, Hope, for this timely message.  How true that we sometimes hold on to something that God wants us to let go of.  I will try to remember and do as you said. Love and prayers to you and yours. Jan Davis  

  9. Thank you for sharing the story. I can almost hear you telling the story to us at small group. Thought of you last night as I was cutting and mashing up avocados (on the sale rack, of course). Miss you guys!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

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