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July 6, 2009
"The Amethyst Ring"
It was 1983. My mother was dying of breast cancer. A few weeks before Mother went into a coma she had a wonderful day. Her mind was clearer than it had been in a while. She decided that she wanted to give to my sister, Andrea, and me her jewelry before she died. But along with that, she wanted to tell us the story that was behind each piece. Some had been given to her in China or some other country, some from grateful friends, and others by daddy on special occasions.
With pen and notebook I began recording the stories. We propped mother up with mounds of pillows and then we cuddled up beside her on the king-sized bed, laying each piece out, one at a time. It wasn't that they were so terribly valuable. They were sentimental. Soon she had rings on all her fingers and she started giggling. Andrea and I chuckled to see mother in such array, (and so out of character!) displaying her jewels. Daddy came in to see what it was all about. "Girls! You all need to get some sleep now!" But then he settled in beside mother, pulling the pillow over his head, pretending to get some sleep. We just kept right on -- mother telling her stories, Andrea picking out another piece, and I. . .writing down the stories. Soon daddy lifted his pillow and said, "No, that isn't how it happened! Let ME tell the story!" And so daddy was in on the fun as well.
Late that night we tucked into bed. I buried my head in the pillow and tears flowed. I knew that I was to get her amethyst ring but I didn't want mother's amethyst ring. I wanted HER. And then the Lord spoke into my heart so plainly. "What DO you want of your mother's?" I sensed the presence of the Lord. The question reminded me of the one God asked Solomon. I felt as though God would really give to me what I asked for. I stopped weeping and began to think deeply. The sun rose behind the great oak tree outside my sliding glass doors before I knew what I would ask for. I knew now. JOY. The kind of joy that enabled Mother to go through days and nights with bombs falling and still remaining steady. The kind of joy that patiently cared for six children while war moved them from one country to the next. The joy that became exultant in the face of the Communist take-over of Shanghai, giving birth to her sixth child and enduring a horrendous typhoon all about the same time. Yes, that's what I wanted from my mother.
I reached for my Bible, knowing that mother would be waking soon, asking for her hot Ovaltine. I needed to get my day underway. I turned to the book of Hebrews where I had been reading. And there it was. The KEY to my inheritance of JOY from Mother! It described her precisely. In amazement I read:
Heb. 1:9 "You have loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." (ESV)
How does one love righteousness and hate wickedness? Especially since some "wickedness" doesn't seem all that "wicked." Mother did. Yet she always identified with me in my bad bits. She would frequently say, shaking her head, "Oh, sweetheart, you got that from me!"
Immediately a verse I had memorized as a child came to my rescue, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Just a verse memorized. Oh, how many of those I had learned. But today this one stood out like pure gold. Hating evil, loving righteousness resulted in gladness and joy! My heart cried out to God, "Teach me the fear of the Lord!"
Again memorized Scripture answered me, "Come O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there that desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and his ears toward their cry. . ." (Psa. 34:11-15 ESV)
The question facing me now was HOW do I actually get my inheritance of JOY?
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