The Forgotten Box

Edwin stumbled into his house at the end of the most heart-wrenching morning of his life. As he flicked on the lights, he still couldn’t quite believe what had taken place – it all seemed like a hazy dream where everything was totally out of his control.

Alice, Edwin’s wife of 40 years, had simply gone across the street that morning to buy some milk for breakfast. The sound of a loud and sickening thump caused Edwin to look up from his paper – only to see his wife lying limp on the middle of the road. It was from that point that everything had become a blur, with the sound of sirens, heart monitors and the voices of concerned doctors and nurses still swirling around in his head. His wife was now in a coma, but she was alive – and for that he was most certainly thankful.

Edwin had now come home from the hospital to pack a few things before heading back to be by his wife’s side. But there was one thing he wanted to find first of all. He couldn’t actually remember when he had last worn his wedding ring, but he wanted it now. Perhaps it had been 20 years since he’d packed it away in a box, reasoning that everyone knew they were married by then, so what was the point in bothering with it any more. But, watching his wife today had caused him to remember that special covenant he’d made with her all those years ago.

Edwin eventually found the old box, and as he opened it to take out the neglected wedding ring, he saw a long forgotten envelope from Alice. He opened it up, unfolded the letter inside and as he noticed the date written on it, he fuzzily remembered that this was Alice’s response from a request he had made a short time before their wedding. He had asked her to tell him four ways that he could tangibly show his love for her after they were married. At the time, it was most certainly a genuine request, and one that he intended to honour to his dying day. But now, many years later, tears of regret trickled down his face as he read through the four requests.

1.. Wear your wedding ring wherever you go. 

2.. Give up smoking and going to the pub.

3.. Buy flowers for our wedding anniversary.

4.. Every Friday evening give me your undivided attention.

The tears continued to flow as he finished reading. In fact, his heart felt like breaking as he considered this long-forgotten list. Edwin had indeed honoured all of these things for the first few years. In fact, no-one would have questioned his love for Alice as they settled into married life and raised their only daughter. But, as time went on, things had changed little bit by little bit.

Edwin never doubted his own love for his wife, but he felt a fresh pang of guilt as he considered what Alice’s thoughts may have been throughout recent years. How was it possible for him to forget to show his wife that he loved her? Why would he even think that he could ignore her wishes and expect her to be happy and fulfilled? The fact that Alice’s faithfulness to him had never waned only added to his grief. And now, with the events that had transpired today, was he ever going to be able to show his love to his wife again?

“Dad? Oh dad, I’m so sorry!” Startled, Edwin looked up to see his daughter coming through the doorway. They hugged each other tightly with newfound tears.

“Karla, thanks so much for coming”, Edwin eventually said. “You’ve arrived sooner than I expected. Did you come by yourself, or did Jacob come with you?”

“I drove myself. I got your message during our church service, and left straight away. Jacob thought it was best if he stayed home to keep an eye on things so that I can stay here as long as I need to. But how are you going? And mum – is she going to make it?” Edwin filled Karla in with the latest details as he packed the things he needed to take back to the hospital.

It wasn’t too long, and they were driving back to the hospital. As Karla stopped at the traffic lights, she looked over at her dad. She noticed him looking down at his hand and realised he had his wedding ring back on. “You’ve found your ring”, she said with some obvious surprise in her voice. Everyone had noticed that he stopped wearing the ring many years ago. When she looked again, she saw her dad was crying, and she felt a little guilty with her abrupt statement. “Sorry, dad. I didn’t mean anything by that. I just thought you must have lost it, that’s all.” The silence was awkward, but she didn’t want to say anything more to further her father’s pain.

Finally, Edwin spoke again. “Karla, I haven’t been the husband I should have been. I should have been wearing this all along.” He held back tears again. He hadn’t cried this much for many, many years. “And now I just hope I get another chance to show her that I still love her!”

“I pray that you do too, dad. I realise you might not believe in God, but I honestly believe He has His hand on mum’s life right now.” She put her hand on his leg to reassure him as they pulled into the carpark. “Let’s just see what He does.” He briefly forced a smile for his daughter – he wasn’t quite so sure that there was going to be much good news in the near future.

Father and daughter entered Alice’s room. This was the first time Karla had seen her mother since the accident and, although she had been told the extent of the injuries, she still let out a gasp when she first saw her. As she composed herself, a group of doctors entered the room and discussed some of the medical details amongst themselves in what almost seemed like a foreign language. After they seemed satisfied that they had covered everything, the eldest looking man of the group stepped towards Edwin and Karla and proceeded to assure them that Alice was in the best of care and that they had been able to successfully do everything that they felt was required. He made it clear that he could see no reason to expect anything but a full recovery. It was going to take time for the healing process to take place, but the news was positive. They proposed to keep Alice asleep for a further twelve hours to aid in her recovery and she would probably remain in hospital for a further two weeks – but she was going to be ok! Edwin thanked the doctor and looked at his daughter, relief clearly evident on his face. He twisted his wedding ring around his finger with his other hand, reminding himself that he was going to make some changes in his marriage from this point on.

As the setting sun glimmered through the window, Karla offered to go down to the hospital cafe and buy them both a bit of food and coffee. Edwin quickly got up from his seat and insisted that he would go instead. He needed some exercise, he explained, after all of the sitting around he’d been doing. He soon returned with a couple of coffees and some packaged sandwiches. “I got these for you,” he said as he passed one bag to Karla. “Your old favourite – ham, cheese and pickles.”

“Um … ok, thanks,” Karla replied hesitantly. Her dad had already started eating as she opened her package and took out the sandwich. She looked at it for some time before taking her first bite. Just as she went to take another, her phone rang – it was her husband, Jacob. She put down the sandwich and blushed slightly as she answered. Jacob was wanting to check on the latest news about Alice. After discussing the situation, he then asked Karla how she was coping with everything.

“You make sure you get the rest you need as well,” he told her. “Your dad will need all the help he can get at the moment. You’ve been able to eat something, I hope?”  It was a question that she didn’t particularly want to answer.

“Yes – some sandwiches and a coffee. Have you managed to find something?” She wanted to change the subject. Jacob had been reading his Bible more than ever lately, and he’d been talking to Karla about the new things he was seeing with great excitement. One of the topics concerned what types of meat they should and should not be eating, and he had decided to keep pork, among other things, out of their home over the past few weeks. These sandwiches were certainly out of the question!

Karla didn’t agree with her husband on keeping all these rules from the Torah (as he liked to call it). She might not have been raised in a Christian home like he had been, but she knew that all those Old Testament laws had ended at the cross of Jesus. Added to that was the obvious issue that all of her friends at church, without exception, agreed with her.

Yet, despite all of this, deep down Karla had some misgivings about her stance. At times, Jacob’s explanations seemed very convincing, and as she read the Scriptures herself each day, she came across parts that seemed to support exactly what Jacob was saying.

Without a doubt, she knew that Jacob loved her and always wanted the best for her in every aspect of her life. She also deeply loved and trusted him, so she wasn’t going to stubbornly refuse to listen to him. In fact, she had agreed to stop doing certain things on Saturday (the Sabbath as he now called it) and had stopped buying the food that he said God wouldn’t want them eating. There were other things that he was wanting to change, but she just wasn’t ready for anything else just yet.

After the call, Karla put her sandwich away. Her appetite had well and truly left her. Instead, she focused her attention back towards her parents. Her mum still looked terrible, but the hope the doctor had given them had really worked to reassure them of a much brighter future. Her dad’s face reflected that hope. She could see again today how much her father truly cared for his wife. If she was honest, that was something that she hadn’t seen so clearly for many years. Today had brought a change in her father.

Karla returned to her parents’ home that evening. Her father was able to spend the night beside Alice on a fold out bed, and he’d asked Karla to bring a few of her mum’s things to the hospital when she returned next morning. She decided to firstly gather the things before a quick shower and heading to bed for the night.

As Karla switched on the light and entered her parents bedroom, she noticed the small box where her dad had been sitting when she first saw him earlier that day. Next to the box was an envelope and a folded piece of paper. As she went over to pack these things into the box, she saw her mother’s handwriting on the front of the envelope, “To Edwin – My Wonderful Husband To Be.”

Karla hesitantly picked up the folded letter. Although she was alone in the house, she still looked around to make sure no-one was watching her. Was this the letter that her mum had talked to her about just two weeks earlier? At the time, her mum had been so upset and she’d poured out her heart to Karla like never before. It was the day of their 40th wedding anniversary, and Alice mentioned that there had been no flowers from Edwin.

“Mum, dad just doesn’t do that sort of thing,” Karla had said quite innocently. “You know that! Don’t think he doesn’t love you just because he never buys you flowers!” That’s the point when her mother broke down and explained how, before their wedding day, Edwin had requested her to write down four things that he could do to show her his love throughout the rest of their lives. One of the things she wrote down was to be given flowers for each wedding anniversary. She had explained that this was now the nineteenth year with no flowers. Karla hadn’t known quite what to say. She assured her mum that it still didn’t mean that her dad didn’t love her, but she now understood her mother’s deep sadness. It had become more evident over the years since Karla had left home and married and recently she had particularly noticed her mum’s growing sadness with regular Friday night phone calls when Edwin had gone to the pub to watch the footy with his mates.

Karla unfolded the paper and read what her mother had written all those years ago.

1.. Wear your wedding ring wherever you go. 

2.. Give up smoking and going to the pub.

3.. Buy flowers for our wedding anniversary.

4.. Every Friday evening give me your undivided attention.

She hadn’t ever seen her dad smoke but, other than that, it was quite obvious that he’d broken all of his other promises. She let out a little cry for her mum. How could her dad do this to his wife? She began to feel some anger towards him – an emotion that she’d never truly felt for her father. However, just as the anger began to well up within her, it was suddenly replaced with a deep sorrow for her father instead. She had seen some glimpses throughout the day of how much this must have impacted him.

As Karla read through the list again, the sorrow she had for her dad became her own! It was like a light flicking on in her mind and heart – this time, she wasn’t reading a list written by her mother’s hand, but a list from God directly to Karla, herself. She could also hear her husband’s voice reading to her from the book of 1 John, verses that Jacob had read to her a number of times and had even bought a poster with the verses and placed it on their toilet wall. They said, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him“.

1.. Wear your wedding ring wherever you go.

[Wear your tzitzit wherever you go.]

2.. Give up smoking and going to the pub.

[Give up eating unclean animals.]

3.. Buy flowers for our wedding anniversary.

[Observe and celebrate God’s special feast days.]

4.. Every Friday evening give me your undivided attention.

[Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.]

Karla suddenly realised that she had really been no different to her dad. Her own God – the One she had very deliberately decided to follow – also had a list of rules, or instructions, that she had agreed to follow. Yet she had decided for herself which of those instructions she would and would not follow. Jacob was right – she needed to join him in turning back to God’s ways. God had truly done so much for her, and the very least she could do was to trust Him and show her deep love for Him by following His instructions.

Karla slept well that night. Even after all the events of the day, she had a joy in her heart as she resolved to make some changes in her life. Things were going to be different now.

Next morning, Karla returned to the hospital and decided to quickly grab a coffee before heading up to her mum’s room. Just as she was leaving the cafe, she noticed her dad in the gift shop next door. “Hi dad. What are you doing down here? I hope you got some sleep?”

“Good morning Karla. I’m just getting some flowers. I want them to be sitting there when your mum wakes up. Your God certainly knows how I’ve neglected things for so many years, and now there’s going to be some changes!” Edwin gave her a smile. This time it wasn’t a forced smile, but one of resolve, giving a hint of excitement at getting another chance to make things right.

What a joyous and emotional time it was when Alice opened her eyes later that morning and briefly smiled at her husband and daughter! The sunlight streaming into the room symbolised the renewed life that had almost been lost. There was so much more hope than just 24 hours earlier.

“It seems like God really has been looking after your mum,” Edwin said later in the morning when Alice was asleep again. Karla looked up from her phone more than a little startled. Her father had never genuinely recognised God like this before. Karla had prayed for her parents for many years now, but this still came unexpectedly.

“Oh, really?” Karla said. In her surprise, it just slipped out. She quickly followed up – “Yes, you’re right of course. He certainly has!” The conversation ended just as abruptly as it had begun, but Karla’s heart was filled with a newfound hope for change in her parents’ lives and, indeed, in her own life too. In fact, the events that had transpired over the past couple of days may have been terrible in nature but there were many positive changes that were emerging in their lives. God had surely been looking after her mum, but He was doing far more than just healing a broken body!

…………

Almost a year later, Karla set the table for a special meal. Today, her parents were celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary. It was to be a night of great celebration as they remembered all that YHWH had done in their lives throughout the last 12 months. There was so much to be thankful for. Her parents were more in love than they’d ever been, Alice had recovered amazingly from her ordeal, Jacob and Karla now had the blessing of a three month old son … and, in a few hours, all five of them would be observing their first Passover!

The forgotten box had been kept hidden for such a time as this – for the very purpose of opening eyes and hearts to the love and the truth of the One True God, and to the righteous instructions He has given to His people.

Is there a forgotten box you need to find?


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