Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Rings

In my top dresser drawer there are several rings that were owned by my grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and husband. They’ve all passed away and I have this mis-matched assortment of rings to remind me of them. Well, sort of -- I know they are their rings and so they do remind me of them. But, for the most part, I don’t know what those rings meant to them, why they bought them or if they were a gift. All that part of my family’s history is gone, and it makes me sad. A couple rings are obvious. There’s a man’s wedding band, and one is a high school class ring. Then there is a ring that says “mom” on it that belonged to my mother-in-law, I can only assume that it was a Mother’s Day gift one year, but I can’t know for sure now. The other rings are more generic looking and I’m not at all sure how special they were to their owners.

The other day I happened to open this drawer and, of course, I let out the usual heavy sigh at the sight. But then it occurred to me that I wanted to avoid this emptiness for my family in the future. You see, I have a college class ring I wear on my right ring-finger. My children have a sense of what it means -- they were in the audience at my graduation. But they don’t know that I wear it every day as a constant reminder of who I am and where I came from and, most important, what I should strive for in my life. This particular ring represents a 20 year struggle to finally earn my bachelors degree. And I want my children (and their children) to know this story about me and my ring. . . .

It was while I was in college studying biology that I became a Christian. At the time I was an evolutionist, but it didn’t take long for that to change. I quickly realized that I couldn’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible I would believe. If I was willing to accept the New Testament story of Jesus, I had to also accept the Old Testament story of the creation. I think at first my reasoning was just that simple. After all, I thought to myself, they’re in the same book! You can’t say this part over here is SO true that you’ll change how you live your life but that part over there is just a phony fairy tale that should be dismissed without a second thought.

Armed with really no more information than just that simple logic, I went to my college professors and tried to show them the errors of their ways. Every time one of them would mention evolution I would raise my hand and remind everyone in the class that this was an un-provable theory and that the Bible held the real truth about our beginnings. Of course I was verbally beaten up every time I opened my mouth. By the end of the next semester I had had enough. I quit college and really thought I’d never go back.

Over the next fifteen years I had an unquenchable thirst for any knowledge related to Creationism. I read and studied anything I could get my hands on. And my faith grew stronger and more mature as I read the Bible through several times, listened to countless sermons and attended weekly Bible studies whenever I could. The Lord was working in my life.

When I finally decided it was time to get that bachelor’s degree I knew I would have a challenge ahead of me. It wouldn’t be easy to remain faithful to my beliefs and not anger or alienate my professors again. Part of the required curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in biology is a course devoted to just the study of Evolution. I protested to the dean of the college on the grounds of my faith, but my arguments fell on deaf ears.

After months of appeals, I finally took the class and surprisingly earned an “A” without ever compromising my Christian faith and the teaching of Divine Creation. I can only guess that my years of reading and study had given me tremendous insight, because I saw clearly how their “faith” in the theory of Evolution was shaping their thinking. It seems I was able to understand where they were coming from and it made me a better listener. All my private studies also gave me the ability to argue factually rather than emotionally. These are all very important lessons in my life and they have served me well in the years since.

However, an even more important lesson was learned while earning my college degree: I was able to remain faithful to my Lord and speak the truth with both boldness and compassion. Yes, I was bold before, but I just made everyone around me angry. Now I had learned how to speak that same message of truth but without causing all the hurt feelings and resentment. Today, when I look down at my right hand I see my class ring – the sides of it say “biology” and the top of the ring has a gold cross. It is a constant reminder of how easy it is to offend someone and still be “right”. And it reminds me how important it is to speak the truth in LOVE, with understanding and compassion.

James 3:17
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

Journal Suggestions:

Recall a time when you were in disagreement with someone in authority over you.

Describe a special possession of yours and tell why it means more to you than the object’s simple face value.

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