(Here is the conclusion of the story I posted yesterday.)
Years have a way of etching their marks on us. Physically, we wrinkle and carry the lines bearing witness of our years. Emotionally, we also bear the marks of the experiences of our lives. After a while, we sometimes scratch our heads and ask ourselves if it is worth it. Years go by, some good, some not so good, but not one of them unredeemable. God promises that He will restore the years that the locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25) This is a promise to which I cling tightly. It somehow makes me feel better to know all those years I threw away God plans to restore. Certainly, God has already restored much. Years of bitterness have been replaced by years of gladness. Years of brokenness are repaired to wholeness.
A wonderful thing happened a few days ago. As I was rummaging through a drawer in my china cabinet, I found a box. I opened it for the first time. There it was—the 1986 bell. I hadn’t bought it. I guess somehow Mike had (1) remembered it was missing and (2) found it in a store, probably years later, and tucked it away for the next year, which indeed came and went. My eyes well up with tears of such satisfaction for these gifts. How good God is to supply, in His time, completeness.
Gracious Lord, You saw us through in a mighty way. And you will see us through again, no doubt. Stones of remembrance, or bells—these speak of your faithful goodness. Only by your grace and mercy, we are living testimonies. Amen. Ring out, bells, and testify to His faithful promises.
Come Thou Fount–
Robert Robinson, 1758.
Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
A metaphorical footnote: Last year, I examined the bells as I polished each one, and I noticed the 1986 bell has a broken stem. It still can be hung, and it still rings but it strikes me as more meaningful that it is the one that is not perfect as a reminder yet of the year He saw us through with such tender love. And I give thanks.