When I heard of the passing of 96-year-old famed Texas jeweler James Avery last month, it took me back to a time when the hand of providence reached down and touched me.
About 20 year ago I had the privilege of sharing this true story with Mr. Avery in person and today I get to share it with you.
In 1971, between my junior and senior year at Texas Tech, I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Hawaii with several fellow college students to work for the summer.
Before I left my mother gave me a small sterling silver “Christian” ring to wear. Simplistic in design with its centered cross cutout, this style ring was to become a signature piece of James Avery’s fine quality craftsmanship.
I wore this ring not because I was particularly “religious” but because it was a gift from my mom.
One day that summer, I lost my ring while tossing the football with friends on Waikiki Beach. When I returned home to finish school, my mom gave me another ring just like the one I’d lost on the beach, and I wore this ring the rest of my college years and beyond.
Though I considered myself a “pretty good Christian” I really wasn’t interested in spiritual things. However, through a series of events, and some people I came to know over the next couple of years, I realized there was something definitely missing in my life.
These new friends were on a different spiritual level than myself. They told me the difference in their lives was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That actually sounded a little foreign to me. Though I was a somewhat faithful church member growing up, this idea of a “personal relationship” made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
Either way I could tell they were speaking truth to me; that God loved me and had a plan for my life. Still I was not interested.
Yet, I realized that I certainly did not have the peace, direction and purpose in life that they possessed. They weren’t talking about joining a denomination or religion or giving to a cause, but a life change, wherein I would be committing my life to the one who made me.
After a few weeks of struggling with pride, in October 1972 I got down on my knees in my Austin apartment and asked God, if He was real, to forgive me, change me, and take control of my life.
Shortly thereafter, things did begin to change; new goals, perspectives, priorities. I was liking the “new me” better too.
And the ring I wore, well, it took on added significance because of my newfound faith.
After finishing grad school at UT, I got a job to return to Hawaii and work in advertising for Honolulu’s two daily newspapers. Within a few weeks I met a young lady named Sandy who worked at one of the ad agencies I called on.
She told me that she too had recently moved back to the islands, after having lived in Arizona for a couple of years. Sandy noticed my ring and asked me about it. I told her I wore it because I was a Christian. She said that she had recently become interested in spiritual things as well so I invited her to come to church with me.
She accepted my invitation and the first Sunday we went together, she went forward and committed her life to the Lord.
Sandy and I became closer over time, and did things together on occasion --- like one special evening when she joined me for a covered dish dinner, Bible study and fellowship in Manoa Valley.
During the meal Sandy came to sit next to me and casually remarked, “did I ever tell you I had a ring like the one you have?”
“No... where you get it?”
“You remember I used to live in Hawaii a few years ago like you? Well, this couple were friends of mine and they found a ring like yours on the beach and gave it to me.”
It took a few seconds for my mind to process this. Then I inquired some more, “now when and where was this?”
“It was the summer of 1971 on Waikiki Beach.”
I was taken aback for a moment while thoughts raced back to the time when I had lost my first ring on that beach. She told me she kept the ring in a jewelry drawer in her apartment.
Later that night, I slipped on my finger the very ring I had lost on ocean’s shore some three years earlier.
We stood there in silent awe. What are the odds? Upon hearing my story, a statistics professor at the University of Hawaii told me the chances of this happening were “infinitesimally small.” Already I had begun to understand that I serve a sovereign God who orchestrates people and circumstances together for His purposes.
He had chosen to manifest his omnipotence to His new followers, Sandy and me, by showing us that He knows us as individuals, knows exactly where we are, and that He works in tangible ways.
And that over time, He intervenes for us and brings about situations and relationships to build our faith and trust in Him. Sandy and I remain friends to this day. Carolyn and I have visited her and husband Dale in their home in Maryland. She has her ring and I have mine. We each share our ring story as a testimony to Our Creator’s wondrous ways and how He knows and cares about the very details of our lives. It’s my greatest privilege to be a child of the King. Believing in miracles comes with being part of the family.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.