Brother Ray and the Pearls

Brother Ray and the Pearls
I know that last week I said I would tell you all about “Turkey Breast, not Turkey Roll,” but I’ve changed my mind. That is just going to have to wait; for some reason I feel the need to tell you a different story.
A few years back, our family had started selling “Sandy Candy” to make some extra money and teach the kids about running a business. The tag line was “Art you can eat!” So, it was like sand art, except it was colorful, powdered candy. We traveled around to different kind of events, festivals and such to raise money to go on mission trips to Honduras with our family.
While doing this, we met a lot of interesting people and had some crazy experiences, and well, why not? We’re the Hunter Clan, right?
One time we booked ourselves at an alternative Christian music festival called Cornerstone. We actually tent camped all week while we worked. The kids got to go hear some great music and meet some great people.
Side Note:  This is the event at which Silas, age of 9, managed to crowd surf during a rocking Hawk Nelson concert. One of the band members got scared for him and pulled him up on stage! Here is my parental disclaimer: His mother and I had no idea what was happening.  Silas was “being chaperoned” by his oldest brother, Ben, and the rest of the kids. But that is another story for another time, though it was pretty cool!
Anyway, the best part for this mature 80’s Christian rock fan was that our booth was set up right next to the retro band tent. The retro band tent that featured such artists as oh, Degarmo and Key, The Lost Dogs, The 77’s and more. Some of you older people might recognize these names.
It was great! We discovered some cool bands we’d never heard of, like The Glen Clark Family, which played cool blues-rock, folk music. It‘s a great jam. Chrissy and I obviously fell in love with their music. At some time during the week, we made our way to their merchandise booth.
 As we walked up to their table, we were greeted by an older man. Looking at him you could tell he had lived some hard years. I remember looking into his well-tanned, worn face, as he smiled a partially toothless smile that gave way to soft wrinkles across his face. I was drawn to the sparkle in his caring, icy blue eyes. His shoulder-length, unkempt hair and his clothes reminded me of pictures I had seen of the hippie Jesus people of the 6o’s.
He introduced himself as Brother Ray. He asked how our day was, and without missing a beat, he asked if he could tell us a story? He said, “I love to tell stories, and I have one just for you.
Not knowing what we were getting into, my wife quickly replied that we would love to hear a story as she thoughtfully smiled back at him. We leaned in a bit to hear his words as he began his tale of a little girl and her treasure. It went like this.
There was a little girl who loved her daddy with all her heart. This little girl’s daddy’s work would take him away from time to time, and when he returned he would often have gifts for his precious little girl.
One such time, the father gave his daughter a set of faux pearls that she loved. She wore these pearls everywhere she went; she didn’t even take them off at bedtime. She didn’t allow anyone to touch her special pearls. They were her prize possession. If anyone tried to remove them or even touch them she gripped them tightly saying, “No, no, no!” With resolve in her little-girl voice, she would proclaim, “These are my pearls!”  This went on for months.
Another tradition the Father had with his little girl was when he was home, he would spend time cuddling with her as he tucked her into bed. Saying prayers with her, ending with a goodnight kiss, telling her that he loved her more than anything.
One night the little girl’s father came back from a trip, and he had started their bedtime ritual.
He tucked her into bed, looking into her little eyes, he asked, “Honey, can daddy have those pearls?  Quickly sitting up, gripping her necklace, the little girl exclaimed “Oh, no daddy, not my pearls! I can’t give you my most special pearls!”
The father smiled and comforted her by saying, “Okay honey. Settle down, it’s okay.” He tucked her in and prayed with her, told her “I love you more than anything,” and left the room.
The next night, bedtime arrived. Again, the father tucked her in and looked at her with loving eyes asking her,
“Sweetheart, won’t you give daddy those old pearls?”  With tears welling up in her eyes, she tightly clenched her eyes shut and shook her head, holding tightly to the treasure around her neck. With her voice quivering, she said “Oh daddy no! Please don’t ask me for my pearls. You can have anything else. Take my teddy or my dolly, but please don’t take my pearls”
The father smiled, and calmly said, “Okay, baby, don’t worry, I won’t take your pearls.” He tucked her into bed, prayed with her, told her “I love you more than anything,” and left the room.
This went on for what seemed like weeks. Over and over again, the father was met with resistance from his precious child. Night after night, the father would graciously accept her refusal to his request.
Then one night when the father entered his daughters’ room to tuck her into bed, he found his darling girl sitting knees to chest on her bed.
With one glance at her daddy, the tears burst forth like water from a dam, spilling down her face. Her arm flung out to her daddy with a tightly gripped fist holding her treasured necklace; through sobs he heard her trembling little voice as she mustered.
“Take them, daddy, please take them! I can’t take it any more! Please take my pearls, they’re yours!” The father sat down slowly next to his little bundle of joy.
He took his thick finger, placed it under her quivering chin, and he slowly lifted her face till their eyes met. Looking deeply into her eyes, he said, “oh sweet child, thank you.”
Wiping away the tears rolling down her soft cheeks, he spoke again, softly with love and compassion in his voice.  “Honey, because you gave me your treasure, I want to give you something that is more valuable and precious than those old, worn out, fake pearls that you have been so tightly holding on to.
As he said this, he reached into his pocket and revealed a long string of the most beautiful real authentic pearls.  He carefully placed them around his child’s neck and said, “You make them look so beautiful!” She leapt from her bed into her daddy’s arms, kissing his face and squeezing his neck, saying over and over again, “Thank you, daddy, I absolutely love them!”
It seemed like time had stood still as Chrissy and I were intently listening to the old man’s story. Brother Ray looked into my wife’s face and smiled and said, “That is the way our Heavenly Father is, you know? He loves you so deeply; you are His precious child, a child that He loves more than you will ever know.  Reaching out and touching both of our hands, looking intently into each of our eyes, he said with a big smile that lit up his entire face, “He has amazing things in store for you, but you must hand over the old pearls.”
I’m really not sure what took place after this; I can’t remember, but I have never forgotten the story and the lesson that Brother Ray shared with us. I thank God for this brief life-changing experience.
I hope this story has blessed you this week. Lastly, please give up whatever cheap fake pearls you’re holding onto so tightly. Willingly hand them over to the Savior, and let the Father pour His unconditional love out on you.
Next week’s blog title will be a mystery one!

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