Today is Monday: our day off, our day of rest, our day to spend with God and rejuvenate, our time to prepare for the week to come. Today that didn’t happen… at least not the way that I had expected. Late this afternoon I decided I would go for a walk to a nearby river with lots of birds and plants, take some pictures of the nature around me, and pray.
Now as you walk with me, a short backstory for our travel. In 2008 I jammed my finger in a door, resulting in what I thought was a permanently swollen finger. Not just any finger – my ring finger. My wedding ring would no longer fit, so I got it resized. In 2009 after a bout with H1N1, my finger shrunk back to its normal size. Life, however, got busy. We were accepted as missionaries into the Asian Access family, and the ring was placed on the back burner, we would deal with it later…
Thanks for listening to my travel story. We have finally arrived at our destination. Today for your viewing pleasure there are some cranes. You’ll notice that the wall by the crane is quite tall. The side that I’m standing on is about a 10-foot drop. It’s a long way down. I was shooting with my camera over the wall to get some good pictures of the various birds when my ring slipped off my finger, and into the water below.
I won’t say that my life flashed before my eyes, but I’ll tell you this: time slowed. I can remember hearing the “tink” of the ring as it bounced off the wall, and then seeing it fall and then hearing the splash in the water. I looked in the water and saw it… half visible. Looking very much like the scene from Lord of the Rings when Gollum reached into the water and pulled it out. While it is not the “one ring”, it is my wedding ring, and because of that I immediately called Val… and I admit it – I was crying.
When Peter called and told me that he’d lost his ring, my first response was, “That’s okay, we’ll buy you another one.”
But then I felt a prompting in my spirit. We both have gone through quite a bit of discouragement over the last little while, with me still recovering. Sometimes it’s felt like we’re clinging for dear life to the promises that God has given us: of healing for my body; and of God’s powerful working in our ministry both now and in the future.
God’s Spirit said to mine: “Ask Me.” So I changed my tune. I prayed with Peter, “God, please return that ring to us.”
When he hung up, I kept praying. I felt that I should call him back with the word for “wedding ring” in Japanese, and the instruction to ask the next person he saw on the street for help. I said to God, “If You’re going to be doing all of these amazing things here, then I know that this matter of the ring is not too difficult for You. Please encourage Peter. Please make a way.”
Then I went back to reading my book. It was a Christian book, and a verse was eventually mentioned. Before I even looked it up, I felt a prompting in my spirit to look two verses farther: 1 Corinthians 7:33. It said, “but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife”. I didn’t know what to do with this, so I went back to reading.
My ring in the river.
As I recited my line (“my wedding ring”) over and over again, a man and his mother approached, walking their dog. I said my line and pointed to the ring. They were very sympathetic to my plight and discussed how to retrieve it. The man then said to wait and left with his mother. So I waited. I took more pictures of birds (and of my ring) and waited some more. He arrived back after about 10 minutes and brought with him a net and some rope.
He then told me what he was going to do (I think)… He tied the rope around a tree, and then around himself. He pulled it tight and rappelled down the side of the wall. About 2 feet from the bottom his hand slipped. He scraped his hand and got some rope burn. He reached into the water, got the ring, put it in the net, and handed me the net. He started to try to get a grip with his feet, but couldn’t. Just at that time two more passersby saw this problem and the three of us pulled the man back over the wall.
When all was finished, I asked if there was anything I could do to thank him, and he said “No, helping you to please your wife is enough.” I must have thanked him about 5 more times before we parted.
When Peter and I later talked and compared notes, we couldn’t help but be amazed. If we had been in any doubt about God working in this situation, He had gone one step further and autographed this whole story, in big bold letters: our benefactor’s statement so closely echoed the scripture verse to which God had directed me. We do indeed serve a great God!