Holding On to Fake Pearls
As a teenager, I heard the story of a little girl who had a strand of costume jewelry pearls she loved dearly. One night her father told her he had a gift for her, but she had to give him her beloved pearls in order to receive the gift. He wanted her to show she trusted him to give her wonderful things in return for what he asked. The gift was a strand of very expensive, real pearls.
It was easy at seventeen to see how many of the ideas and dreams I held were fake. It wouldn’t take much for God to replace those things with much better things. But at forty, when I’m sitting in the midst of a life I’ve worked so hard to create when the pearls I’m holding are the ones God promised me years ago, it’s hard to let go.
It’s not hard to imagine a better life. Everything can always be better. Marriages. Children. Paychecks. Friendships. Health. Nothing in this life is ever perfect. But I’m so content with this world God’s allowed me to be a part of, that it’s hard to convince myself I might be holding on to the wrong things.
Isn’t contentedness what Paul called us to? We can all recite Philippians 4:13, but do we remember the verse before it?
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Contentedness is a good thing then, right?
Until it becomes our excuse to no longer follow what God’s called us to do.
Earlier this year I spent a good deal of time praying over a situation in my life. Many mornings I turned my hands upward to God and promised Him I’d follow Him wherever He led. If He kept me where I was, I’d stay with Him. If He led me forward, I’d follow. I wanted so desperately to be in His will.
He’s still working on that situation, but He surprised all of us with changes of a different kind. In the midst of these changes, I’m reminded of that prayer and my sincere commitment.
The scariest part is that God doesn’t call us just to step away with our old life remaining as a safety net under us. He calls us to reject it, to burn it up for the new life He’s promised us. He knows if we leave a shred of that old life behind, we’ll return to it the minute times get hard.
All this talk of changes and new life sounds perfect for a soon-to-be high school graduate or a new college grad. But if we think because we’re in the second half of our lives that He’s less interested in giving us new life, think again. As long as we’re living God has a purpose for our lives, and sometimes that purpose requires us to trust and hand over all the things we’ve collected in this life for something better.
Big things are coming for our family this year. And by the end of this decade, we’ll be empty nesters. I’m not rushing the future, but some of it we can see tipping over the horizon. I don’t want to spend another day, much less a year or a decade, holding on to fake pearls.