Would you like to hear a story tinged with mystery -- mystery of hope and faith?
The story begins with a February trip of my brother, Gerald. He traveled to Chicago from PA, for his birthday, to hang out and golf a bit. Yes, golf! :-) Hardy Mershimer souls see nothing wrong with golfing [or hunting, sometimes not much difference in the two, lol] in inclement weather. Nothing like a little chilling wind to sharpen the golf game and strengthen the character!
So, we planned it rather well. I met him on his way into town, at one of my favorite courses south of Chicago -- a great course, conveniently open for winter golf. The day actually wasn’t that bad and we had the course to ourselves, to laugh and talk smack: brotherly fellowship under an open sky, bracing canopy of nature.
Snow at the turn
Everything went rather normal until the turn. Weather blew in off the lake, and out of nowhere the skies started spitting snow. I looked at him, and said, “You think we should keep going for the back nine?” He scoffed in his best Marine bluster, “Sure, what’s a little bit of snow?” “I can handle it if you can!” I laughed and said, “Ok!” So we made the turn.
Holes 10 and 11 weren’t bad, but by number 12 it was a comedy of golf. The snow increased, and now blanketed the ground. Ever try finding your white golf ball in snow? lol, all I’ll say is don’t use your Titleist Pro V1’s in these conditions! It was truly funny… we left a few balls for the course, needless to say.
But we didn’t fret. It was a magical time, snow coming down and the world shut out, just us. We just went with the flow, laughing and having a good time. We'd clear enough snow to putt out on the greens… which were not ‘green’ anymore. And, as the ball would roll toward the hole, it would become a snowball, like a great rolled snowball from childhood, rolled sideways. The longer the putt the bigger the "snowball." Quite comical!
We frolicked in the snow until the 16th hole, where we teed off on a par 3. Now we were dealing with the thickening snow and early approaching darkness of a winter evening. I hit my shot somewhere to the left of the green; he hit his somewhere to the right, and we started out to find them, if we could.
The snowy plot thickens
I searched for awhile, and sure enough, found my ball. I readied to play it up on the whited-out 'green,' and looked out through the falling snow, to see Gerald stumbling around on the other side of the fairway, looking lost. “Can’t you find your ball?” I asked. “No,” he said. “But I’m worried about my lens.” “My right lens popped out of my glasses.” ‘What?” I said. “Do you know where?” “No,” he replied. “But I think somewhere over here…”
Come to find out, as he was walking, bent over, looking intently in the snow for his ball, falling snow pelting and melting on his face and hair and glasses, suddenly one lens was gone -- into the snow. And he didn’t even know the approximate place.
And, to make matters even worse, he had been walking around in circles so much, trying to find the ball, and now the lens, that his tracks went everywhere. If there had been a one percent chance of finding by backtracking slowly, now that chance was gone.
The impossible call
But he called out to me, “Come and help me find it.” “We just have to find it!”
I was shocked. “Gerald!” “Are you thinking clearly?” “That’s impossible!” “You don’t know where you dropped it, your tracks are everywhere.” “It could be anywhere, and even if you knew where, you still couldn’t find it, since it’s been snowing on top of it now for minutes!”
I reasoned with him, “Let’s just finish up the next two holes and then we can find a lens place somewhere, and get a new pair of glasses or new lens.” But he said, “No, you don’t understand!” He said something about lacking lens insurance and funds. “We just have to find this!” There was pleading in his voice, and I knew we weren’t moving on until I at least made some kind of effort.
So, kind of irritated about being forced on a fool’s errand, I walked over to his side of the fairway, taking great care to walk only in his footprints.
But it was impossible. His footprints seemed to go everywhere, and every minute gone by just added to the falling snow. “Gerald, this is impossible!” I said. “I know,” he said. “We have to pray.” “Come over here and let’s pray,” he said, calling me up near the green where he was looking.
“NO!” I replied. “I’m not coming over there to pray.” Honestly, I was a little bit aggravated at him for insisting we look for it. And now he was insisting that we pray, not apart, but together -- wasting even more time, in my mind. So I got stubborn. “I’m not coming over there to pray.” “You can pray, and I’ll look.”
So, he dropped to his knees, right there on the green.
True guidance and false
And I turned to face the wind and snow, looking out over the vast whiteness, and sorting through my emotions. I knew it would take a miracle to find this, and so I began just letting go and seeking guidance. “Lord, please guide me to this lens.” “There’s no way to find this in all this snow.” “Please tell me where to walk, and where to look.”
The thought ran through my mind that Gerald was half-blind, missing one lens and the other lens pelted with snow. So, it was on me to find it. And I felt that, and just breathed… a prayer, deeply. “Show me, Lord, please, in your will.”
Immediately a thought rushed in, strongly: “Not here… walk over to the left, and down the hill.” I started to move, but stopped. Where did that thought come from? I closed my eyes this time, and prayed, “Lord, I hear a lot of clamor in my own mind. Please lead me by your mind.” It was only seconds, but it seemed forever.
I stood still, not moving at all. No steps to the left or right, just listening in spirit. Calmness came over me, and I opened my eyes. That other clamor was gone.
The return of the lens
“Lord, this is a fool’s errand, but please watch over your fools,” I thought. I knelt down, right where I was… put my hand in the snow, and closed my fingers.
I felt something, and looked down… the most stunned person in seven states.
There, in my hand, lay the lens.
I had seen nothing with my conscious eyes, and only reached once into the snow, on a whim. And yet my fingers closed exactly on the lens. I stood, silently, holding a mystery.
Somewhat in a daze, I walked up to the green. Gerald was still on his knees, asking God’s intervention. “Is this your lens?” I asked, holding out my hand. He stared at me as if he were seeing a ghost. “You’re kidding, right?” “Are you joking?” he said.
I shook my head, and handed him the lens.
He was speechless. He stammered, stuttered, “W..wwh..what, how did you find this?” “I really don’t know,” I said. “I just put my hand in the snow and there it was.”
“Do you realize what this means?” he said. “Loy, you don’t know the prayers I was praying before I got here, and what this means to me!” “You have no idea,” he said. “This is a powerful sign to me, and an answer to prayer.”
“God is good,” I said, still in awe myself.
The treasures of the snow
We finished out the round, with a strong sense of grace all around us. I treasured up several thoughts, silently… considering the mystery of it all. What if I had listened to that first ‘guidance,’ that clamorous voice? And what were the chances of this happening by ‘chance?’
It was miraculous, if not a miracle.
Now, I know it was not a miracle in the classic sense, but a miracle of grace, an answer to prayer. And as far as the chances of that happening – reaching down once into that expanse of snow, several hundred square yards of fairway and rough, and coming away with the lens – a million to one, or greater.
But in God’s economy, the hopeless chance is the choice of grace.
A light from the shadows
What is lost to us is found to God. A good theme of grace ran through my soul, and a verse from the Return of the King echoed in my spirit…
From ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
God is good at finding lost things. What is lost to us is merely moved out of time for Him, out of the stream of common events, stored up for the sacred day: found again in good time. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…” "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name."
Those of you who read these words: a word to you. Is there a lost ring, a lost lens in your life?
Maybe you feel as if you’ve lost your innocence, your joy, your trust -- your belief that God has a good plan for your life. Maybe you’ve lost your ability to dream, to live and dance in that vision of higher things… pulled down by life and stuff and earthly ‘wisdom.’
Maybe you've lost hope in the 'spacious place, free from restriction' -- that abundant life trusted in younger years...
Trust the blade to be re-forged, the love awoken, the ring renewed, the crown restored.
Here is a story from human time, to renew you in divine timing…
God bless these words to you!