It was a restless night for Jack. He discovered the morning before that he had lost his wedding ring. He had worn it since 1992 and it meant a lot to him. It has an inscription inside with his wedding date. There is another one too in italics: “Through headwinds and tailwinds” Jack and his bride met on bicycles under very strange and beautiful circumstances. Unbelievable ones. That is a story for certain. It involves a Lutheran Pastor, a bartender in Washington state, A camp cook and the bartenders grandparents. It’s been written and published already, ‘A bicycle built for two’ Jack will send you a copy if you are curious! You can find it at Gatorsgracenotes.com as well.
So, back to the ring. The whole Gator clan began looking for the ring. Could be it was stripped off Jack’s finger when he removed his gloves outside? (It’s happened several times) Search the garden, the wood shed, the garden tool shed, the glove box in the house and car. You get the idea. Jack felt it was perhaps thrown off his hand in the night when he shook off a carpel tunnel cramp. The only way to search the room’s carpet was to move the bed. An awful lot of dust and the usual vacuum cleaner task. Incredible mess. After the bed was moved 90 degrees and the cleaning began in earnest, a dusty journal of Jack’s emerged. Details of Jack’s ministering to his old navy best friend that was in hospice in Maryland. Hadn’t been seen for sixteen years. No ring was found. They left the bed turned ninety degrees and cleaned a lot. It worked very good and had been thinking about it anyway.
Driving alone to an early prayer meeting, Jack began haranguing his Lord about the ring. The usual rant we all when things are difficult and not making sense. “Where is my ring? You know where it is Lord!” The answer was, of course, immediate and kind. Jack was reminded that his gold ring would not follow him into eternity. Neither his 18th century viola nor the 100 year old Gibson Mandolin. The story of Jack gently responding to his best friend Chuck’s dying request will go with Jack. He answered Chuck’s question “So what’s the good news?” Indeed, there is very good news about forgiveness, redemption and the romance of Heaven. A lot of you know exactly what It is about. It’s fact, not fiction. Impossible it would seem that the God of the universe would die for me. Jack asked Chuck to meet him when it was his time to die. Chuck cried when their parting embrace ended.
Soon after Jack had flown home, Chuck called and wanted to talk. He asked Jack what are the words? There aren’t any ‘words Jack said. Let’s just talk with the Lord Jesus and show him our hearts. Let’s tell him how we feel about the mistakes and victories we have experienced. Ask him to forgive the mistakes and bad decisions.
After about a half and hour went by and Chuck said, “Is that it?” Pretty much sailor, how do you feel now?
Chuck said he felt pretty good about the truthful talk. That was very good news as the phone conversation was a ‘party line’ with Chuck’s new friend listening in. “See you upstairs!” Those were the last words Jack said at the hospice. Several weeks later, Chucks wife rang up and said Chuck wanted to be baptized. Seemed appropriate. She said Chuck was getting close.
Praying in the front pew at Church with his eyes closed, suddenly Jack saw Chuck entering paradise. Chuck was walking away and turned and pointed at jack over his shoulder and said five words that Jack will never forget: “It’s better than you said!” There was a bit of commotion in the pews. People were concerned about the odd things Jack was trying to say. “I saw Chuck! He…just left” The Gators went home.
They found that Chuck’s wife left a phone message that Chuck had died in Maryland at the same time Chuck appeared to Jack. A phone call to Chuck’s wife telling her what had just happened to Jack was a great encouragement to her. What a gift it was/is and is still the best good news that Jack shares. A gift from God. He doesn’t know how it works but it was pretty swell to experience.
So, Jack surrendered his angst about his wedding ring of gold and realized the journal with the details was only found when they looked for the ring.
Still missing after five days. Gone for good, impossible to search through leaves and grass around the farm. Sad, but resolute in surrender, Jack went for his usual lap swim at a high school pool about 20 miles away. Early morning, around six am. Jack began swimming in the lane next to the wall lane and on the third lap looked over into the deepest part of the pool under the lap lane and saw a round object that was dark. Looked like an O ring but perfectly round. Could it be? That is where Jack was doing his Backstroke five days earlier. He asked the gal that was swimming in the lane if she dives. She said “sure” and Jack asked her to dive down 10 feet and bring up that round object. She did and popped up with Jack’s wedding ring. Not so shinny after five days in chlorine and bromine, but it was Jack’s ring. The inscription said so.
Wonderful release of his sad loss, Jack held on tight to the ring and did a short swim and texted a picture home of the ring. Impossible it was still there in plain sight. Not vacuumed, not in the drain close by. Go deep jack. The surrender of the lost ring after the discovery of the journal was perhaps the key? “How has God been working in your life this week?” Jack’s good friend, his pastor asks that every Thursday morning at the men’s Bible study. This Thursday Jack has got something to share with the men. An encouragement of choosing the best thing. The good news indeed..It’s pretty good, Jack Gator