The Lord and the Ivory Vase

I had first seen the vase on Etsy. It was a faux ivory vase of interesting and intricate Chinese design, completely unique among the choices from my Google search. Yes, this would make the perfect 14th anniversary gift for Lisa! But let me give some background to this story.

Sometime around the beginning of December, for whatever reason I was prompted to start my search for an anniversary gift for Lisa. The occasion was our 14th wedding anniversary and the traditional gift for the 14th is something of ivory. Well, actually not of REAL ivory, because that would mean that elephants have to die to give up their tusks, but rather of faux ivory, and there on Etsy was a beautiful faux ivory vase with Chinese carvings on it. It was not practical, but it was beautiful and unique, so I decided to buy it for Lisa. Our anniversary was on January 14 and it was still early December, so this would get to Charlotte in plenty of time. It was only after I had purchased the vase that I realized that the seller was in Latvia. Can you say long delivery time? Add to that the fact that I had ordered it on December 2, at the peak of the Christmas shipping and shopping season, and there was a built-in possibility of having a long wait. But our anniversary was not till January 14, so surely there was enough time for the vase to get here by then.

I was further encouraged on December 4th when I received an email telling me that the vase had, in fact, shipped from the seller in Latvia, and there was even a tracking number for following the vase on its way to Charlotte. All was looking splendid! A few days of no news and a tracking number that yielded only the statement that the vase had left Latvia put a dent in my enthusiasm and my optimism, but then on December 19 my tracking update reported that the shipment has been “Processed Through Facility ISC NEW YORK NY (USPS). Your item has been processed through our facility in ISC NEW YORK NY (USPS) at 2:30 pm on December 19, 2019.” Now here was good news, indeed! The vase had been processed (past tense) through the USPS facility, so surely it would only be a couple of days till the faux ivory vase was safely in my hands. Or so I thought.

Instead of a rapid route to Charlotte, however, the vase seemed to drop out of existence. I checked the tracking number almost every day, and every day the message was the same as it had been on December 19: “Your item has been processed through our facility in ISC NEW YORK NY (USPS) at 2:30 pm on December 19, 2019.” There was no change, no progress, no movement. Christmas came and went, and then New Year’s came and went, and still the message was the same. I began to wonder if the package had been lost or stolen. Why was it not moving? Would it ever move? Maybe someone at USPS can give me more information than I am getting from the tracking number.

There was a phone number on the USPS Website that offered to give tracking information on missing packages, and I was getting so nervous that, on January 6, I contacted that number. My expectations were low, but I thought it was worth a try, so I punched the numbers on my phone and waited. An automated voice answered my call and told me that “she” would be happy to help. She asked me for my tracking number, which I spoke into the phone letter by letter and number by number. All was going well until we got to the very last letter of the tracking number. For some reason the machine could not make out my “V” and continued to insist I was saying “C.” Three tries at this relegated me to the alternate queue where a “live person” would help me with my inquiry. “The estimated wait-time for the next available representative is between 48 and 55 minutes.” Needless to say, at that point I ended the call much more frustrated than when the call began and much more certain that my beautiful faux ivory vase was lost forever. Now it was January 6, and I was out of options.

On Tuesday, January 7, I dutifully checked the tracking number again and again received the same answer. December 19 was the last update. Now I was despondent, convinced that I would never receive the vase and that I needed to come up with another idea for our 14th anniversary. At about 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon January 7, I decided to pray to the Lord about the lost vase.

“Lord, I know that this vase is a trivial thing and that it doesn’t make any difference in your plan of redemption, but this is important to me and You say in Your Word that you hear my cries. Lord, Your Word also says that nothing is too difficult for You (Jeremiah 32:17), and so I am asking that You would hear my prayer and that You would bring that vase to me in Charlotte, and that You would do that before our anniversary. I bought this vase to show Lisa, the wife You gave me, that I love her. Lord, please glorify Yourself and show Your power by bringing that vase to me. In Jesus name, Amen.” That was about 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon on January 7.

I again went to the USPS Website and suddenly saw a selection on the site that I had not noticed before. There was a place on the site where a person could request that any updates to the tracking information be emailed to them. I went through the steps to enter that information and then went back to work, not really expecting that anything would happen.

At 3:11 PM, I received an email update from the USPS Website giving me the information that my package “had been processed through our facility in ISC NEW YORK NY (USPS) at 2:30 pm on December 19, 2019.” Not exactly exciting news, since I had seen and received that same information every day for almost three weeks.

Then at 4:06 PM I received the following email message from the USPS Website: “Your item arrived at our USPS facility in JERSEY CITY NJ NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER on January 7, 2020 at 3:50 PM. The item is currently in transit to the destination.” I was amazed at what had just happened. There had been almost three weeks of no movement whatsoever. The package appeared hopelessly stuck. Then I had prayed and in less than two hours the Lord had started the vase moving again and had sent me an email to make sure that I received that notification about what He had done. I was overwhelmed at the power of my God and at the compassion of my God. I offered prayers and praises to the Lord for the way He had heard and answered my prayer. “Yes, My child, I can get the vase to you before your anniversary. All you needed to do was ask (Matthew 7:12).”

From that point on I received daily updates from the USPS Website keeping me informed of the progress of that faux ivory vase. On Friday, January 10, I received a notification that the package was scheduled to arrive at my house on Saturday January 11. When I returned home from doing a service project at church, there in front of the garage door was the international package. I scooped up the box and deposited it upstairs in my home office. I carefully opened the box and viewed the contents. Beautiful! The vase was exactly what I had been hoping it was, and I was so pleased at the way the Lord had brought it to me at exactly the right time.

Our God is mighty and yet He regards the lowly (Psalm 138:6a). He cares for the concerns of His children. Praise His holy name!

SDG          rmb          1/15/2020

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