>Ring Pops and Dirty Napkins

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Rob Bell in his book Sex God tells a story about a junior high dance he went to.  We’ve all been there; guys on one side, girls on the other, a great chasm in between.  The problem is that in order to ask someone of the opposite gender to dance, you have to gather up the courage and boldness to cross that chasm before you even get to the task of asking. Rob finally decided to ask this girl he liked to dance, and after making the walk of shame, approached her, asked, and…she screamed, cried, and hid in the bathroom all night.

Now THAT is a confidence killer.

When you are in that situation, before the screaming and crying, there are steps to take in order to assure success.  You want to look good, make yourself as attractive as possible, right?

Now imagine that terror, only magnified a thousand times because you’re asking someone to marry you.

When I decided that I was going to ask Abby to marry me, I enlisted the help of my mother, who is incredibly thorough and helpful.  By the time I went home to make the actual purchase, she was basically on a first-name basis with every jeweler in the Greater Dallas area.  It was awesome.  However, after a few hours of looking at numerous stores, something just didn’t feel right.  Nothing looked good enough, big enough, shiny enough…desirable enough.

And then it hit me.  I could never understand how people could think of themselves as the exception to the rule.  If God loves everyone and forgives all sins, then He loves everyone and forgives all sins!  The concept that God forgives everything EXCEPT my sin or loves everyone EXCEPT me just never clicked…until I started looking for that ring.  I knew Abby would say yes…I could have proposed with a ring pop and gotten away with it.  She loves me for me, not for the bling I pick out for her.  I knew this fact, and yet it was still a terrifying experience.  I thought I was the exception.  Suddenly I knew how everyone could feel like that…and I hated that feeling more than anything.

Which leads me back to the ring.

That was one of the most exhilarating, terrifying, exciting experiences of my life, and I’ve been to a Super Bowl. (Don’t tell Abby I just compared our engagement to the Super Bowl.)

Staring at case upon case, store upon store, of rings, gold, white gold, platinum, something called palladium…gave me an overwhelming sense of power and fear.  But I also thought that I had to find the PERFECT ring, that Abby would only say yes if the ring was worthy enough.  And you know what? I found it. Then I turned over the price tag. And gagged.  

Needless to say, I didn’t get that ring.  I’ll get back to that in a second.

When it came to planning the engagement, I had an elaborate set-up at my house all put together involving something like 50 candles and a bowl of thimbles.  However, what wasn’t in my plan were the gale-force winds that prevented hardly any candle lighting, much less the little tea-light candles I had.  So I had to call an audible. Pictures are on facebook.

My perfect ring and my perfect engagement, both gone because of circumstances out of my control.  And yet she still said yes. 

Why didn’t I trust her?

More importantly, why don’t we trust God?  We are obsessed with trying to make ourselves more desirable to Him…but we can’t! He already loves us more than we could ever imagine just as we are.  In fact, in Romans 5, it says that He loves so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

The reason middle school dances, proposals, and ultimately giving ourselves to God are all scary beyond belief is that it makes us completely vulnerable. What we need to understand is that God loves us for us, not what we bring Him, not what we do for Him, and certainly not how attractive we are to Him. 

Isaiah 64 says that we have become as unclean, and all our acts of righteousness are like filthy rags.  Whatever we do to TRY to gain God’s favor is like the dirty towel you use to wash your car.  You can’t earn God’s love. It’s just given to us freely.

The true source of beauty is revealed in 1 Peter 3: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Acts that come from the heart are gifts to God.  Just think…the Creator of the universe thinks that your heart is of great worth!  More than all the diamonds in the world or the mountains or the oceans…your “gentle and quiet spirit” brings Him joy. 

You see…it doesn’t matter whether you see yourself as a giant diamond ring or something as simple as a ring pop…God will ALWAYS say yes. 

You just need to ask Him to dance.

“Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King.  Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.  For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”  Psalm 149:1-4

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