I made a new, younger friend this year. She is beautiful inside and out and I have so enjoyed getting to know her. She was in a Bible Study with me called WOW. One week I asked if anyone wanted to share a time that God had done something that had made them go “WOW”.
And about a week later I got an email from my new friend saying “I feel like I need to share.” And let me tell you, share she did. She told us some powerful stories of her family’s time on the mission field in Turkey.
She and her husband and small children lived in that country for 3 years. I didn’t know this, but Turkey is 99.9% Muslim. Out of 65 million people there are less than 2000 believers. And those who do believe face persecution from their families, jobs and, in some cases, even death.
She told us that she felt like she needed to “boast in the Lord” whenever she had the opportunity (ahem…giving “testimony”). And she sent me two of the stories that she shared that night to share with you now.
The first one is “Lord of the Ring”. These are her words….
Lord of the Ring
I wanted to share with you a way that God has really shown His power to us. I can’t miss this chance to boast in His name and His goodness and so I share this story with you.
My husband was windsurfing in the ocean in front of our house. As he fell off the board, his hand hit the edge of it and he felt his wedding ring slip off his finger and into the ocean. He tried to remember the spot where it fell but for all practical purposes, we thought the ring was gone.
The next day, I was at a tea party with about 10 of the women who live in our apartment complex. These tea parties are a weekly affair where we sit for several hours talking about what I call, “approved tea party topics.” These include: where you went on vacation, recipes, and other shallow matters of life. Personal struggles or issues of the heart are never discussed. But, this week, the topic of fortune tellers came up. One after another, the women began to share stories of things that fortune tellers had predicted in their lives. The conversation deepened as a woman shared of her brother being murdered and another shared of family troubles that indeed came to pass after being forewarned by a fortune teller. While I was glad to see the conversation turn to more personal topics, I was deeply saddened by the power that the fortune tellers clearly had over these women’s lives. The more I listened, the more I wanted to tell them of Jesus’ power! I felt as if I would burst if I didn’t give Him the Glory He deserved! Suddenly, I thought I heard Him tell me to say to the women, “I’m going to go home and pray for 30 minutes that I will find Justin’s wedding ring. Then, I’m going to dive in the ocean and try to find it.” I was very nervous about saying this but clearly felt that God was asking me to. So….I stood up and loudly announced “I’m going to go home and pray……..” As soon as I said, “I’m going home” several other women also stood up and said “We’re leaving too.” NO ONE heard me say that I was going home to pray to find the ring. It was as if the Enemy had such a stronghold on these women, I wasn’t even allowed to speak of Jesus’ power in that moment. I turned to the woman next to me and said it again because I so badly wanted someone to hear. Then I ran home and cried.
Why did God ask me to say something so absurd if no one was going to listen? Why are these people so blinded to His truth? Was He just testing my obedience? Why does He want us to live in a place where they don’t even want to hear about him, much less believe? My 30 minutes of prayer stretched longer as I poured my heart out before Him, begging Him to use this lost ring for His Glory among our dear friends. They aren’t just an abstract ‘people group’ anymore. They are the people who we share life with. The women who bring us dinner when I’m sick. The families who give Nathan treats when he passes by their porches. Oh how we love them and long for them to know the Love of Christ!
As I was praying, God led me to Psalms 33. It was a beautiful song of praise full of His promises. “He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke and it was done’ He commanded and it stood fast.” (verses 7-9)
With the belief that He could speak and cause the waters to be ‘gathered up in a heap’ and a longing for ‘all the inhabitants of the world to stand in awe of Him’, I went to look for the ring.
I looked and looked but didn’t find it. I became more and more frustrated as I really felt like this silly ring diving business had been God’s idea, not mine! At one point, while I was diving, I prayed, “I don’t care about the ring; I just want you to show your power to these people!” I heard Him answer “First, you have to move the clouds.” What clouds? That makes no sense. Then………… I saw them.
Covering the ocean floor was a brown algae substance that looked like big brown puffy clouds. The presence of these clouds made the ocean look deep and dark because there was no place for light to penetrate and reflect off the bottom. It was such a clear picture of our role here being one of preparing the way just as John the Baptist did for Jesus. Our role is to push back the clouds that are covering our friends’ hearts and eyes by cleaning up the lies and deception, dispelling misconceptions of who Christians are, and speaking Truth into the darkness so that they are ready to see and believe when He chooses to show His power!
I left the water filled with a peace that He had done a great work in my heart, renewing my purpose for living in Turkey. That night in our church time, we meditated together on Colossians 2. The phrase “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” stood out to me. Later, a friend said, “Don’t you realize, you lost an earthly treasure together but gained wisdom and knowledge in Him!” We rejoiced together that we would choose knowing more clearly God’s heart for these people than having a piece of metal.
With thankfulness in my heart for God’s willingness to speak to me with such love, I thought the story had ended.
A couple of days later, I was talking to my sister on the phone. She said that her husband had been burdened to continue to pray that we would find my husband’s ring. He said that God has been gracious to him in the past to help him find little lost treasures and he now loves to pray for God to do the same for others. I told my sister, honestly too many days have passed. Look at the beautiful words God has already spoken to us. I have stopped praying that we will find it but if he wants to believe for us, go ahead!
That very day, the currents in the ocean switched directions for about 24 hours. This is something that only happens about twice per summer. The day after, a fellow believer who was passing through town arrived at our door unexpectedly. He said, “I heard that your husband’s ring was lost and I want to try to find it.” I was shocked but said OK. We gave him the snorkel, mask, and fins and showed him the general area where it had dropped. About 30 minutes later, he came back with the ring! I was so overwhelmed with His faithfulness in showing His power even amidst my unbelief!
Our friend said that while diving he realized that without God showing him where the ring was, it would be literally impossible to find. He was reminded of the story of Isaac giving a blessing to his children. Even though Isaac was blind, he knew to ask God for the blessing. In the same way, our friend asked God for the blessing of finding the ring even though he was blind to where it was.
Then … he saw the ring sticking out of the sand!
We rejoice in God’s care for the little things in our lives and are encouraged to press on as we imagine how much more He cares for the lost sheep that we lived among! May we diligently labor to move the clouds. May He come in Power!
And that, my friends, makes me say “WOW”.