We had a guest speaker yesterday at church. His name was Joe White and he and his wife, Debbie Jo, own the Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri. They have 9 different Christian sport Kamps for kids, mainly high school age. He told us about some of the kids he works with and how so many of their lives have been transformed through Christ. He even shared his own story, and how he is facing cancer right now, but he trusts God with everything he has. He is an incredibly inspirational person.
He told a story about a little girl who really wanted some pearls. So she decided she would make her own pearl necklace with some plastic pearls. She bought some plastic pearls and some string, and she strung them into a pretty necklace that she wore everyday. She loved this necklace so much.
On her birthday, her father came into her room and said “Do you trust me?” She said “Yes, of course I do”, then he said…then give me that pearl necklace. She said “Daddy! Why do you want my necklace? I can’t give it to you”. So the next year on her birthday, he did the same thing. Figuring she was a year older and may respond differently. He came into her room and asked her again…”Do you trust me?” “Yes, Dad, of course” she said. So he proceeded to ask her again for the necklace. She asked him why he was doing this to her, that was her favorite necklace and she couldn’t give it up. She held onto it and was very upset that he would ask for it again.
The next year, hoping she would now trust him, he did the same thing on her birthday. He asked once again if she trusted him, she said yes. Then he asked again for her to give up the pearls to him. She finally decided to do it, she said…”Dad, I do trust you, and I guess if you need me to give these to you, then I will trust you and do it”. See the father had gotten a second job a few years ago and saved up enough money to buy her a pair of real cultured pearls. He was saving them for when she would trust him enough to give him the plastic pearls.
Once she handed over those plastic pearls, her dad reached into his pocket and handed her the real cultured pearls.
What an incredible analogy, don’t you think? As he told us this story, he asked us to get out the pearls we were given when we walked in the door. (They had handed each of us a plastic pearl as we were walking in). He told us that just like this little girl, we all hold onto something artificial. Something we can’t let go of, that we THINK brings us happiness. But if we turn it over to God, he will bring us true joy….like we have never known. It will be the REAL thing.
Joe asked each of us to stop and think about what our “plastic pearl” is, what it is we are holding so tightly to, and can’t let go of. What is it that we think gives us happiness, but it’s not the real thing. What do we need to hand over to God? Then he asked us to come up to the stage, and throw our pearl onto the stage, to signify that we are letting go of our “plastic pearls”, and handing them over to God on the altar.
It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard.