“Maybe God wants you to go alone. Leave the kids and I here. See us on weekends…”
My twelve-year-old heart was crushed and confused as I listened to my parents. God had slammed into our family with grace and gumption the previous year when I witnessed my dad’s dramatic conversion from alcoholic to born-again Christian. But what was happening? Was my family going to crumble now that we had a foundation of faith?
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).
Following Jesus was still very fresh for my parents, sisters, and me. We observed something special in the way God ignited a passion in my dad’s heart for sharing the gospel once he discovered the truth, and he had a burning desire to preach to anyone who would listen. He needed to consume this brand new, life-changing theology in huge gulps—preferably full-time at Bible School. Thus began the discussions with my mother regarding a new chapter in our lives.
In fairness, my sweet mom was going with the flow as a new Christian herself, and the plan looked doable as they considered the Bible school located close to our home on the beautiful south coast of England. But when my dad announced he felt God calling him to go study in Wales—uprooting us all from our family, friends, and everything familiar—things got a little frosty at home, to say the least.
It was then that my mom suggested that perhaps God was only calling my dad, not necessarily the rest of us. It was a four hour drive to Wales and perfectly acceptable for him to come home on weekends. We would have the support of friends and family close by during the week. It would be fine.
My dad, however, refused to believe God would call him alone and want him to live separately from his family, especially now that alcohol no longer played a part and we were enjoying a healthy, normal life together.
It might have been summertime, but those frosty vibes were palpable to all.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
In an effort to maintain some level of normalcy, we embarked upon a family day in the sand, sea, and sun. The beaches in Bournemouth are stunning and I was pretty much raised in a beach hut on the promenade—so this was our happy place.
Only on this particular day, it was not so happy.
After a refreshing swim, my dad emerged from the sea only to discover his ring had disappeared into the deep. Not just any ring—his wedding ring. That precious band of gold signifying marriage and love and togetherness with his wife, was gone. My mom’s face fell. Surely this lost ring was a lightning bolt sign from above that my dad was to go alone to Bible school in Wales. It was concrete confirmation in her eyes.
For my faith-full dad, it was quite the opposite. He was sure we would find that lost wedding ring and that would be the sign God was calling us as a family.
Bold move, Dad.
And so, for my sisters, parents, and I, the pathetic treasure hunt began. Needle in a haystack? Try a tiny gold band in an ocean with waves and tides and shells and currents. Needless to say, the search was fruitless, leaving everyone depleted and frustrated as we eventually headed home. What was God doing?
“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
The next day, we decided to return to our familiar stretch of beach in the crazy hope of finding the elusive wedding ring. I may or may not have rolled my pre-teen eyes. In an effort to make the experience more bearable for me, I invited my friend along with her little brother. Completely oblivious to the underlying heartache of the lost ring, they joined our motley crew in the resumed treasure hunt. The tide had been in and out and hundreds of holidaymakers had dredged along the seabed, but still we searched.
“Is this it?” My friend’s little brother plucked a circle of gold—our treasure from the sea—and held it high in the salty air. I’m fairly sure all our jaws hit the sand in unison.
Yes, that was indeed my dad’s wedding ring! We were instantly filled with joy, relief, awe, and gratitude as the ramifications of that precious piece of jewelry—now firmly placed back on my dad’s finger—hit home.
We were a family, and God had a plan for us all. Together.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
We went home from the beach that day with a collective spring in our step as the adventure began. Oh, there would be struggles ahead and numerous mountains to climb, but we would do it as a family, with God’s guidance. My parents gave everything away and we ‘lived by faith’ for three years while they raised four daughters and my dad studied to be a pastor.
Even though young angsty me didn’t relish the thought of leaving all my friends behind with the move to Wales—a certain cute Welsh boy caught my beady eye and we started dating when I was a mere 14 years old. We’ve been married for 31 years now—I guess Wales wasn’t so bad!
And today, 40 years later, my parents are still side-by-side serving God after decades in full time ministry. God even orchestrated for them to run full circle and retire back at ‘home’ exactly where they started their adventure on the south coast of England. They have a plethora of stories about God’s faithfulness toward them throughout their lives but I think we all look back with particular fondness as we recall this treasure from the sea—this one very special miracle for a family of baby Christians who needed to know that God takes care of the details when we trust Him.
“God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, acts with a hand that never fails.” -C.H. SPURGEON
This might be a summery story told during a wintry month, but that’s intentional. God’s goodness and grace is unlimited—it covers every season of the year and every season of life.
Whether you are searching at the very beginning of your walk with God, somewhat floundering in your faith in the messy middle, or even well-seasoned with years of experience in your wake, know that God is always faithful. He sees our stresses and knows our hearts. He cannot make a mistake and nothing takes Him by surprise. He doesn’t lose track of anything—not even a teeny tiny ring in a huge ocean. He patiently teaches us and leads us as we take each step into the future with Him.
And sometimes, just to show us how much we are seen, heard, and loved—He takes joy in plucking treasure from the sea.
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