Sometimes you get a feeling in your gut that is a deep knowing that only comes from God.
When Josh Gallagher, the lead pastor of Paradise Alliance and I talked about what he wanted to find most in the ashes of their house in Paradise, my stomach turned over. Josh said, “I’d like to find my wedding ring he said, and I kind of know where it was in the house.”
I volunteered our church staff to take a half day to help Josh and his wife Erin sort through ashes – I just had a strong sense in my gut that we were going to find it.
One of our biggest concerns as the day approached for us to go sifting was the weather. The forecast for the week was rain with heavy rain called for today. Many of us prayed for a shift in the weather that it would not rain while we were up at Josh and Erin's. It wasn't looking good this morning as the rain was heavy as we attended an orientation put on by Samaritan’s Purse at Calvary Chapel on how to sort and sift through the ashes. Samaritan's Purse is doing an amazing job of mobilizing, training and helping volunteers to come serve here in our city. Our team of eight, six NC Chico staff and two people who came to volunteer, went up to Paradise to sift through the ashes with Josh and Erin.
As we searched, we found many coins that had been collected over the years that were intact, Precious Moments Christmas decorations and almost an entire set of China that was in a box from Josh and Erin’s wedding. The things that were spared from the fire’s destruction surprised us, but the real prize had not been found yet and I knew our time was coming to an end.
Sure enough our team leader from Samaritans Purse came over to me and said that we only had about 15 minutes left, and then we would need to pack up. The thought of leaving without finding that ring bothered me. I was sure that the Lord had my stomach turning over as confirmation that He was going to help us find it.
In desperation, I went over to the area where most of our team was searching for the ring. I was silently praying, Lord, we really need you to come through… and then He did. The team leader sifting next to me said, "Hey, I think this is an earring, or maybe a ring."
They had found many other earrings, but we called Josh over and he decided to go and wash it off to see if it was indeed his wedding ring.
The first yell was his… “This is it! This is my ring!” Then a chorus of hoots and hollers were raised as we collectively celebrated the grand prize of the day. Finding that ring was like finding a needle in a haystack and the Lord allowed us to find it. I couldn’t help but feel like the woman in Luke 15:8-10 who searched throughout her house for a lost coin and finally finds it. She is overwhelmed with joy and calls her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her. The passage goes on to say that this is the same joy that heaven experiences when one person repents and gives their life to Jesus. Josh’s ring was also the last treasure we found this morning.
As we took our protective suits off we didn’t walk to our cars, we floated. The gratitude we experienced was overwhelming and all the credit went to the Lord who knows how to guide our hands and our hearts to bless others.
We went looking for treasures that we could recover for our friends, and in the end we found Jesus, who was loving our friends and guiding our hands. God also answered our prayers regarding the weather. When we arrived at Josh's it had stopped raining, blue skies and even the sun came out. It wasn't until we were in our cars heading back to Chico that the rain started falling.
If you would like to have a sifting experience, the need is massive. You can contact Samaritan’s purse online at Samaritan's Purse Volunteer Opportunities or sign up at Calvary Chapel in Chico. I will be volunteering to do this again, it is a powerful experience that is led by a loving God that you will never forget.