“Finders – keepers, losers – weepers” – NO!

Carol's mother's ring

I gave this mother’s ring to Carol last year for her 40th birthday.  I wrote about the significance of it then; you can read my original facebook post here.  The Scripture warns of excessive jewelry as a substitute for internal beauty, but this ring is a memorial with special emotional and spiritual worth.

Today, Carol and I were at a grocery store.  We were on different sides of the fruit stand and an elderly lady walked up to me and held out this ring and asked me, “sir, did your wife lose this ring?”  My heart jumped into my throat as I immediately recognized the ring and realized how close we had come to a great deal of grief.  I quickly told the lady “yes!” and she gladly gave it back to me.  She told me she had found it on the floor around the corner; she said that when she saw it she realized it wasn’t cheap and that someone would probably be missing it.  She also told me that she and her husband had decided to ask every person in the store if it was theirs.  I called to Carol across the aisle and held up her ring which she immediately came to retrieve and express her thanks to the lady, and to God.  (I actually put the ring in my pocket until we can get it resized, her hand is a little smaller than it was when I gave it to her).  We told the lady that we have eight children and this was her mother’s ring with the birthstone of each of our children.  I wish I had thought of getting their names so that we could have expressed our gratitude a little more tangibly, but I didn’t think of it quickly enough (so there’s a lesson I need to learn on a more immediate gratitude).

There are a few thoughts that have been running through my mind this afternoon.

  1. Integrity.  I’m thankful that the lady who saw the ring was more interested in finding the original owner than using it for her own profit.  She could have easily thought of keeping it or pawning it.  I’ve never liked the phrase, “finders keepers, losers weepers.”  That phrase describes a very selfish sentiment when it comes to lost items of nostalgic, emotional, or monetary value.  I’ve taught my kids that, just because they find something, it doesn’t mean it’s theirs.  There have been times when I’ve made them return items that they have found, seek out the rightful owner, or at least surrender it to someone or someplace where the one who lost it might find it (customer service at a store, etc).  They didn’t necessarily like doing it, but it was the right thing to do and I believe they will teach the same principles to their children in the years to come.  As they mature, they will learn more the spiritual value of material things.  I was encouraged by this lady’s determination that she was going to find the owner of the ring; it makes me think that probably her character is evident in other areas of life as well.  Integrity permeates your person, it isn’t just manifested in one aspect of your life.
  2. Mercy.  God very graciously permitted us to avoid the energy that would have been expended in retracing our steps.  We might not have realized it was gone until we were home several hours later.  At another time, we lost Carol’s wedding ring (which we did find in a pile of weeds pulled out of a rose garden); her emotions and mine were both on edge until we found it.  One time our check book was left on top of our vehicle after a trip to the store; a few hours later, the police from that particular town called and told us that someone had found it in the middle of the road and turned it in to them.  Those kinds of scenarios are maddeningly worrisome; your blood-pressure goes up, you can’t rest well, you spend time and energy looking, thinking, trying to remember and retrace, etc.  God was good to keep us from going through all of that, it was returned to us before we even knew it was gone!  Carol had probably dropped it just 5 or 10 minutes earlier.  It could have been found by someone who lived by the philosophy of “finders keepers losers weepers.”  God was very merciful to us.
  3. Sovereignty.  In all of this, God was in control.  Even if the ring was lost, God would still be good; He would have had some lesson for us to learn.  However, I’m convinced that God oversees over every situation of life.  He kept us from getting too far from the ring; He directed the eyes of that lady to the ring on the floor, He had her ask me if it was our ring (there are other people that would have claimed the ring had they been asked – even if it wasn’t theirs).  He used the situation to increase our faith.  He used it to be a blessing to the lady as she saw the relief that she had been able to give to us.  He used it as a reminder of the spiritual value of the ring – which is a token of thanks and a prompter of prayer for each of our children.  There are probably a dozen other providential intentions that I’ve yet to ruminate; His ways are higher than mine.

All said, I’m grateful that God will use various scenarios to calibrate our understanding of Who He is!  I’m thankful for the reminder of the value of my wife as the mother and chief influence in the lives of our children, just before Mother’s Day!

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