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 Julie 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 too.
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. In it were Details of Jack’s ministering to his old navy best friend that was in hospice in Maryland. The journal Hadn’t been seen for sixteen years. No ring was found. They left the bed turned ninety degrees and cleaned a lot. Their thorough cleaning was very thorough and they had been thinking about vacuuming there 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 would 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. They both knew that living at the hospice is not usually a long term situation.
Not long after Jack told Chuck about the good news, Jack saw Chuck entering paradise. Chuck said five words that Jack will never forget: “It’s better than you said!” Chucks wife left a phone message that Chuck had died in Maryland. Jack called back and told her that was the same the time he appeared to Jack. What a gift it was/is and the best good news anyone could hear. Mary Lou, Chucks wife, was astonished and obviously, greatly encouraged by this. In Navy terms, Chuck had ‘crossed the bar’ and was home.
So, Jack surrendered his angst about his wedding ring of gold and realized that the journal with the details was only found when they looked for the ring. It was 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 that lap lane and saw a round object that was dark. It looked like an O ring that was 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 the sad loss, Jack held on tight to the ring and did a short swim and texted a picture home of the ring. Impossibly that it was still there in plain sight. pool Not vacuumed, not in the drain close by. Go deep jack. By the way, Jack has never seen that young swimmer since then.
Jack’s surrender 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