I’m sure we all have treasured presents, things that have been given to us in circumstances that mean a lot to us. Sometimes even treasured present get lost. Let me tell you about such a present!
This is my birthday celebration week. I am very happy and excited because I will celebrate 70 years on earth. Seventy years! It’s mind-boggling. My dear late husband never made it to that mark. Why am I so privileged?
Take away the zero and I’m left with seven. That’s the birthday I received a very precious gift. I don’t have a recollection of that day. I don’t remember any birthday celebrations before that time. The only thing that has stuck in my mind through the years is The Present. My father gave me a watch!
Today, for a father to give his seven-year-old daughter a watch is no big deal. But turn back the clock 63 years, go to the southern part of Chile in South America, and it was a big deal. It must have cost Dad a small fortune!
I think my father has a special appreciation for watches. I remember him many times giving my mother a new watch. Maybe for you, my dear reader, it doesn’t make sense. What’s so special about a watch, you might be asking? It was special because of the places where we lived, because it took an effort to bring about a good watch. I used to have “orders” from people in the area when I went to Sweden and passed through the USA on my way back. It wasn’t uncommon to spend sixty dollars for a watch. I’m talking about fifty years ago. Today you can get one for ten dollars!
All this said to get to the point. My father gave me a watch for my seventh birthday! Every year I cherish the memory even more. But I lost it!
I did not lose my watch because I was careless. I lost it because I was careful with it! That doesn’t make much sense, but wait ‘till you hear the whole story.
It was Easter-time. We lived in Osorno, Chile. My parents were missionaries there. They needed a break and went to visit missionary colleagues in the capitol city of Santiago. I was in school so they couldn’t take me with them. The Easter weekend I would spend out in the country with some friends. They had a boy my age, so we would have fun.
Playing around in the country-side and by the lake I could lose my watch, so I left it at home. I also left my good clothes and my school uniform. A beautiful dress that my mother had put down a lot of work on was also left at home. Mom only sent my “old” dresses with me. Yes, dresses! We didn’t wear shorts or slacks back then!
That weekend our house went up in flames! That’s how I lost my precious present. And my good clothes, and my school uniform! This is nothing compared to everything else that was lost. Three houses burnt to the ground. My dad’s T-Ford was also lost. How the fire started we can only speculate, but it spread quickly because the houses were made of wood.
I saw the fire! The boy friend and I were playing by the lake. In the distance, on the other shore, we saw the fire. Little did I know that it was “my” house that was on fire! Come Monday morning, when the man who was to escort me back to the city came, and he talked with the man where I had stayed, they whispered. They were whispering about “my” sad situation.
It was sad! In one of the houses, where we lived on the second floor, we had the church services. All three houses belonged to one of the elders of the church. The good part about the whole thing? That neither he nor my father had insurance! Had the houses been insured, Dad and this man would have been put in prison. Why? Because it would have been obvious that Dad hired someone to set the fire while he was away in Santiago. You can always find some good in a bad situation!
That’s the short-lived story of my very special present. But the memory of a father’s love for his seven-year-old daughter have lasted a life-time!
How did my mother react to the news about losing everything? She only wanted to know if I was fine; nothing else mattered! She sat down at the piano and sang a song about heaven, a song about that thing on earth had no real value because her home was in heaven. And there she is now, since 2001. Soon we will meet again. When my mission on earth is complete, I’m heading Home!
That’s the story about my treasured and lost present. Tomorrow I’ll have another birthday story. I’m celebrating that I’ve reached the milestone the Bible talks about.
Psalm 90 — A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood;
they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands! (ESV)