The weeks that led up to the closing were bar none the most difficult in my life. The rock lodged in my throat kept me from swallowing. I couldn’t breathe. Brokenhearted, I met with the staff. Eighteen faithful employees were losing their jobs. We had become a family. I had failed them.
But it only got worse. I had to tell patients and their families. Twelve had to leave our beautiful home to go to the hospital, nursing home or out-of-town hospice house to spend their last days. They entrusted me with their care. I had failed them.
The final morning as I was getting dressed, I felt as though I was preparing for a funeral. Fumbling through my jewelry drawer, I glanced at a pair of pearl earrings. Tears flowed freely as I remembered an analogy about pearls that I had read many years before. I went to my bookshelf where I found the well-worn book, Seasons of Life by Chuck Swindoll. There were notes in the margin and highlighted quotes. It favored a used college text book.
Reminiscing, I determined that I had read it my senior year of high school, 1985. I laughed as I remembered basking in the sun at Myrtle Beach while reading the book. A strapping young man sauntered over and sat down next to me. Not an original pick-up line, "Whatcha reading?"
When I shared that it was a book about the different seasons we experience during our walk with Christ, he looked confused. I attempted to explain, "Well, right now I'm reading about winter, a season of quiet. 'We will not become men of God without the presence of solitude', I quoted.
"Well enjoy your solitude," he snickered as he walked away.
Moving forward over twenty years, I flipped through and found the quote about the pearl.
One of His preferred methods of training us is through adjustment to irritation. A perfect illustration? The oyster and its pearl. Pearls are the product of pain. For some unknown reason, the shell of the oyster gets pierced and an alien substance-a grain of sand-slips inside. On the entry of the foreign irritant, all the resources within the tiny, sensitive oyster rush to the spot and begin to release healing fluids that otherwise would have remained dormant. By and by the irritant is covered and the wound is healed--by a pearl. No other gem has so fascinating a history. It is the symbol of stress--a healed wound. . .a precious, tiny jewel conceived through irritation, born of adversity, nursed by adjustments. Had there been no wounding, no irritating interruption, there could have been no pearl. Some oysters are never wounded. . . and those who seek for gems toss them aside, fit only for stew.Closing the book and placing it back on the shelf, the words ruminated in my mind, "Fit only for stew." I mumbled a simple prayer throughout the day, "Create a pearl out of the mess, please make a pearl." I desperately wanted to know that something good, something of eternal worth, was being created through all of the sorrow.
That was several years ago, and while I still don’t know the reason the ministry closed, I do know God is faithful and is moving in my life. Maybe I’ll write about it in future blogs. For now, I think I may still be in the oyster. . . patiently waiting . . . anxiously waiting . . .waffling between the two. Being humbled. Living simply. Trying to remain faithful. Trusting that God will create a pearl . . . in His perfect timing.