I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, but I learned in my twenties of an unconditional Love that wanted to encourage, strengthen, and empower me to dream as I had as a child before my parents’ divorce. I was thrilled to learn about a virtuous woman having a price far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10, KJV). I prayed to be like her!
Even after sixteen years of loving God’s Word during my “too-quick” marriage, I leaned on His promises through the final four years of heartache which ended in divorce. Staying in God’s Word, I practiced as much patience, forgiveness, and grace as possible when “another woman” had entered our lives. The Bible’s words kept the embers alive: I would one day understand my value, have a godly husband, and know my assignment for growing God’s Kingdom.
Stepping out in faith, I began a three-year adventure with Jesus in my forties. The still, small voice invited me to live and study in the south of France, which had been a college-student dream of mine. Just a few months later, I was alone in a foreign country, enveloped by the Mediterranean sunlight and the Word of God. There, I began to learn deeply about the “pearl of great price” about which Jesus teaches in Matthew 13:45-46.
I first understood that I was seeking the pearl of Jesus’ unconditional Love for my own heart. Despite the many fears and doubts that tried to keep me awake at night, I had sold all my possessions, separated myself from most of my family and friends, and lived almost like a nun in that sunny, third-floor apartment. Peace, wisdom, and faith, however, rose up in me as I daily studied God’s Word and “walked by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Next, my vision broadened to see each person—including you, reading this article—from God’s point of view. As I learned to celebrate Bible truth, I yearned that God’s Kingdom would grow so that each of us can dance and sing with Jesus:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;(Psalms 139:14,NIV)
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
With the flames of God’s Love growing stronger in me, I then found myself speaking encouraging words to the people who crossed my path: the 80-year-old widow who had recently recuperated from a broken hip, the thirty-something bachelor who shared his motorcycle sightseeing trips with me each Saturday, and the dozen international students aged 18 to 65 who were also seeking something personal and life-changing in the south of France.
I learned another perspective of God’s valuable pearl during a year-long friendship with a young Muslim woman from North Africa. It was a surprising honor when she confided in me that she was facing both academic and medical challenges. Only Father God’s Love can draw His wounded women together into community, despite the huge gap that our cultures build to keep us apart. Because I was learning to grow in the Fruit of the Spirit more each day, He was beginning to use me as a vessel to bring value into another of His broken and lonely daughters.
Even today, when I question life’s obstacles of divorce, loneliness, or sickness, I remember that Japanese pearl divers used to risk their lives—diving hundreds of feet into harsh ocean waters with only the breath in their lungs—in hopes of finding a pearl of great price. Only after opening each oyster would the pearl diver discover the true value of her efforts. From the outside, the rough shell may have seemed useless. Yet, each ugly shell might have served as a vessel to beauty: when an intruding piece of sand irritates an oyster, it secretes multiple layers of protective covering to shield it from the discomfort and creates a beautiful pearl!
In my mid-fifties—despite doctor reports or a parent’s death, I daily celebrate the Love of Jesus and the mighty man of God who asked me to marry him three years ago. Whether worshiping the Lord, serving our family and friends, or ministering into Kingdom purposes, I am eternally grateful that God’s promises are Yes and Amen!
I pray that you, too, will discover that Jesus always sees YOU as a pearl of great price and that He values YOU far above rubies. Those truths don’t even require a passport, just His Word to build faith in your heart.
Arden L. Dudek, Reverend
The Power of His Word Ministries
Born to teach, Arden shares her life’s journeys and challenges to encourage each person who crosses her path, whether in a classroom, at the workplace, or through media. Arden’s first devotional Growing in Faith Abroad includes twelve stories of trusting God while living alone in Europe. Overcoming loneliness, fear, and poor choices are universal lessons any Christian can learn with the help of God’s Love. Look for the release of Growing in Faith Abroad by early 2020 on Amazon.com.
Arden and her husband Mark have recently launched The Power of His Word Ministries from Central Texas, their home since their 2016 “whirlwind” marriage in Southern Illinois. A day at a time, the Dudeks seek to reflect the Father’s heart, to honor Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and to allow the Glory of God to minister to them and through them by Holy Spirit. Their website will also be available by early 2020: www.ThePowerOfHisWordMinstries.com