My parents were quite upset with me when shortly after graduating high school I moved across the country from New Jersey to California, where I knew only one person—a girl I had met only briefly. In retrospect, they were hurt by seeing the move as a personal rejection. But, my grandmother saw the move correctly as my need for a positive change in my life, my friends, my choices. She set out to emotionally support me and bring me comfort through mutual and regular letter-writing. Her letters often included articles, scripture, and spiritual devotions. I always knew that one special gift from my grandmother had a powerful--yet subtle--statement for me; but I hadn’t gained its full significance in my life until Carley’s story prompted me to investigate that clanging sound further.
from her friend, Ethel Sorg (all the jewelry predated 1899, since that was when Ethel married and changed her last name). My grandmother confessed that she mainly purchased the engraved items so she could gift me with her pieces, as Ethel’s maiden initials “ES” were the same as mine (for Emily Snyder). Just before I moved to California, my grandmother gave me the locket (see picture) on a thick chain with a card which included an explanation for the “Mizpah” engraved on its reverse: "The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another" (Genesis 31:49). I’ve always treasured this locket and that verse.
In this Genesis story, Jacob and Laban set up a pile of stones as a watchtower—or Mizpah--for their promise to each other with God as their witness. I also knew that Grandmom’s sharing of this verse with me was a significant symbol for the bond between us: even though we would be across the country from each other, the Lord would be watching over us. That symbolism fully “clicked” upon hearing Carley’s story
As we begin Advent, I celebrate the coming of the Christ Child into my life. He is my Mizpah, my watchtower, my bridge until I come face-to-face with God. He is always there, has always been there—even when I didn’t fully know Him—watching over me.
I’ve been blessed with an ever-faithful grandmother who very subtly guided my early spiritual growth. And, I’ve been blessed by an ever-faithful God who has loved me and knew me before I was even born. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)
Let’s all rejoice together as we prepare and celebrate the coming of Christ into the world!
Your friend in Christ,