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Pearls from God

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Al Earley's weekly column

By Al Earley

I have always loved this simple story I found on the internet. I don’t know the author or even if it is true, but it has an important truth to tell. It is about a cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls who is almost five. With her mother at the checkout stand, she saw the glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. “Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them?”

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box, and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. “Jenny, they are a dollar ninety-five. That’s almost two dollars. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you, and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”

Jenny worked hard the next two weeks doing chores for her mom and her neighbor, and when Grandma gave her a dollar for her birthday she had just over two dollars. Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere; Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Her mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?”

“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite.”

“That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he gave her a kiss goodnight.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” Jenny offered her father a favorite baby doll. But her father declined and kissed her goodnight.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?” Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure.

Jesus says in Matthew 13:45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

The treasures of earth are little more than junk store jewelry, while the treasures of heaven are like a perfect pearl. What baubles are you hanging on to? Do you have any earthly idols that captivate too much of your attention? Do you trust in God to provide for your needs? If God were to ask you to give up one thing to receive the pearl of great value, what would that one thing be?

Al Earley is the pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.