The Lost Valuable
Walter Dingman’s Frustration
Absolute frustration gave way to rage as Walter Dingman grabbed the award he’d received two years earlier and threw it against the wall. It shattered into pieces and left behind a hole in the sheetrock. Steeped in trouble, his heart was heavy. No matter what he did or how he manipulated the sales, the end results lately were not equating to more or better for him.
After growing up with little, he was determined to be something important and live comfortably because of it. Shedding himself of those who opted to live in poverty, he left his family behind, portraying himself in a better light. But that light was not real. He was not kind or giving in his success. There was no heart of charity within him. He lived a lonely, self-centered life. And the deceit he’d been weaving was difficult to keep track of.
A Salesman’s Deceit
Hearing the lobby door open, Walter quickly rose and stepped out of his office, closing the door behind him to hide the mess he’d just made. His heart sank when he saw the older man he’d recently sold a camp to. They’d closed on it quickly, before the man could realize how terrible it was or how much work it really needed. Walter was glad for that. He reminded him of his father who had little ambition and that irritated him.
“Mr. Patterson!” Walter opted for a “glad to see you” tone as he approached the man. His wrinkled and poorly fitting clothes further highlighted his impoverished status. Walter didn’t need whatever problem this old guy was bringing him now.
“Well good morning, Walter. How are you?” Mr. Patterson was jovial in his response, though in a quiet mannered way.
“I’m great. Thank you. What brings you in?” Walter asked, skeptical and wary. This guy had been naïve, and having sold all he had in Texas, he was easy to push a quick sale on. The man was in need of a place to stay for little money. However, Walter had hoped he’d not have to deal with him again.
“Well, Walter, you see I’ve got a problem, and I thought you could help me.”
Walter nodded but his mind was racing. He quickly thought through the house’s issues, wondering which might have led Mr. Patterson back through his door. “What can I help you with?” he asked hesitantly.
The Lost Valuable
“I found something in my house and wanted to get it back to its owner. It’s a lost valuable. Do you think you could deliver it for me?” He picked up a plastic shopping bag that he’d set down when he came in and handed it to Walter.
Walter opened the bag and saw a ratty old book. “I think you can just throw this away, Mr. Patterson.” Walter chuckled after a wave of relief flowed over him.
“No, no.” Mr. Patterson took the bag back and fished out the tattered book. “It’s someone’s Bible.”
“Well, the camp was sold ‘as is,’ and all furnishings in it became your property. That would mean that this Bible is yours.”
“I want the person whose home I bought to have it back. There’s a lot of valuable information in it that’s personal to them. Can you please pass it along?”
Walter agreed just so the man would move on. It didn’t matter anyway. The camp’s previous owner had long since been gone. It had been an abandoned property. To make it more appealing, though, Walter portrayed it differently. Painting a picture of home and comfort when reality offered ghosts and tragedy was a tactic he often used to clinch a sale. It was like staging a house, but in a psychological way.
He took the bag containing the lost valuable and held the door as Mr. Patterson shuffled back outside. Returning to his office, he tossed the bag into the trashcan, grabbed the dustpan and broom, and dropped the shards of glass on top of the Bible. Fishing hammer and nail from a drawer, he moved a picture to hang over the hole in the wall.
Mr. Patterson’s First Winter
“Walter! It’s been a long hard winter since we last spoke. You’re a refreshing sight to see!” Mr. Patterson exclaimed. “How are you?”
Walter was saddened by the run-down look of the building. It certainly looked worse than when he’d sold it to him the previous summer. The man appeared older and more haggard than he had the day he delivered the Bible. “Mr. Patterson, I’m so glad to see you. Do you have a minute to talk?”
The aged man stepped back, ushering Walter into the largest of the three rooms. “Here, take your coat off and have a seat in the recliner. Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? I have both and was just going to get a cup of tea for myself.”
“Sure,” Walter said, shrugging out of his coat. “I’ll take tea too, with just a little sugar added, please.” He tucked his coat and a bag he’d carried behind him and settled on the edge of the recliner. It was cold in the little house.
The gentleman shuffled into the tiny kitchen and spoke while he put a kettle on for tea. Sharing how beautiful he thought the winter had been, he told of his surprise at the frigid temperatures. He’d only dreamed of seeing snow in the past. Though it had impressed him, he realized he’d been unprepared for the reality of it.
The Struggles of Poverty
Walter looked around at all the tell-tale signs. He’d witnessed the same growing up, which indicated how poor this man really was. The room was tidy, but it was clear it had truly been a long, hard winter for him.
A heavy blanket with holes in it was hanging in the bedroom doorway, likely to keep the heat contained to the living room and kitchen. He, himself, used to sleep in a cold bedroom and knew how uncomfortable it could get. His parents used to hang drapes in the stairwell to save money as it kept most of the heat downstairs.
He glanced to the two windows which were covered in heavy plastic. Silver duct tape held them in place and small patches of it covered what must’ve been holes. The man obviously tried to get by with what he had. And the furniture, tattered and torn, was the same that was in the house when he’d bought it.
“Here you go.” Mr. Patterson handed the cup of tea to Walter and sat down on the couch directly opposite. The room was tiny and they were very close to each other. “What brings you by?”
“A couple of things really,” Walter stated looking at the frail man through the rising steam of his hot tea. “First of all, I wanted to ask you if you know about God.”
The man looked up quickly and a sparkle filled his eyes. He smiled. “I do know about God. Why do you ask?”
“I have a confession.” Walter took a slow, deep breath before continuing. “This house had been abandoned. I lied to you and I’m sorry. Through the winter I’ve worried about you and hoped you’ve been alright.”
Mr. Patterson remained quiet a moment, as if waiting for more. “Why do you confess this?” he asked.
“Do you remember that Bible you brought to me?”
The man nodded his head gently.
“I threw the Bible away. That particular day, I was in a bad place. My life had been heading downhill for some time, and I was hitting bottom. But that Bible kept nagging at me after I went home. The next day, I pulled it from the trashcan. You’d mentioned there being valuable, personal information in it, and I hoped I could gain from what was there. Maybe there was something I could cash in on or make money from. I was desperate and thought it was meant to be.”
Walter paused, sipped his tea, and glanced up at Mr. Patterson who was waiting patiently. His demeanor was calm and peaceful, which allowed Walter to feel comfortable. He looked for a place to set his tea down and noticed a Bible on a small table beside the recliner. It too was well worn with papers tucked in between the pages. Walter reached behind himself and pulled the Bible in question out from the bag.
The True Value Found
“There was a lost valuable in here, Mr. Patterson, but it wasn’t what I’d thought. As I was going through in search of something to help me financially, I found God instead.”
“Walter,” Mr. Patterson said, “I do believe God was reaching out to you.”
“Yes!” Walter sat a bit higher on the edge of the chair. “Yes, that’s what I wanted to talk with you about. I believe He was reaching out to me. He had that Bible here and knew that you would bring it to me. God has changed my life and I wanted to come and thank you!”
“Oh, Walter, no thanks is necessary. I’m very happy for you. God is great, and it’s wonderful to learn that you have come to know Him too.” He sipped his tea slowly as though he was deep in thought. “How do you feel God has changed your life? You seemed to be doing very well. I’m surprised to hear you were in a bad place that day.”
The Source of A Better Life
“I’d been so angry at my parents for how we’d lived that I’d distanced myself from them. A better life, that’s all I wanted. And I put that before the needs of the people I was supposed to be serving. I was a selfish man. However, I see now that a better life doesn’t come from more money or prestige, things my parents didn’t have. A better life comes when we give it to God.”
“There’s nothing truer than those words, Walter. What changes has this relationship made in your life? Do you still sell houses? Is your business successful now?”
“That’s why I’m here, Mr. Patterson. God has opened my eyes to how wicked I’d been, and all for my own gain. I’m not the same man I was when I sold you this camp. Yes, I do sell houses still, but my success does not come from awards for high sales. It comes from trusting God and letting Him touch others through me, if He wills. Your cabin is in rough shape, and I want to help you so you’re safe at home, safer than you were all winter. I intentionally misled you when I sold you this place. Can you forgive me?”
“No, you didn’t mislead me. I was aware that you were a salesman on a mission. And though you thought you could take advantage of my situation, you were not the one in control. God was. He was the One Who told me to buy this house, and now I’m blessed to see why. It was all for you to come to know Him as I do.” Mr. Patterson put his teacup down on the box he was using for a coffee table, got up and stood before Walter with his hand outstretched. “Of course I forgive you. Welcome to the family, son.”
Walter rose, wrapped his arms around Mr. Patterson, and hugged his frail body tightly. “Thank you.”
Ruth Knowles’ Lost Valuable Returned
“Hi. My name’s Walter Dingman. Do you know someone named Ruth Knowles?” The door had only opened slightly. Walter stepped back to offer space.
“Why?” The question was asked hesitantly.
“I’m a realtor, and a number of years ago I sold a house that she must’ve lived in previously. It was a camp on Smith’s Road a few towns north of here. Anyway, there was something of value left behind and I’m trying to get it to her.”
The door opened a little more, allowing a glimpse of an elderly woman leaning on a cane. “What is it? I never had anything of value.”
“Ms. Knowles?” Walter asked. She nodded her head. Her silver-gray hair glinted in the summer sun.
“Nana, who’s at the door?” The door edged open more as a woman who appeared to be in her early forties stepped alongside the elderly lady. “Can we help you?”
“It’s okay,” the elder responded. “It’s for me.” Her granddaughter looked Walter over before slipping back out of view.
He could sense her concern, so he quickly pulled a box out of the cloth shopping bag he carried. Holding it up, he took the lid off, exposing her Bible. He watched as the look on her face went from cautious to joyful. A beautiful smile spread across her lips and she reached a finger out to touch its soft, worn cover.
A Treasure Returned
“You’re right,” she said. “It is valuable. And I’ve missed it so. God taught me so many lessons, and I’d kept track of them all here: my notes of His mighty love, the verses that gave me His powerful revelations. He was the Word, and He shared Himself with me; simple, little me. Oh, it’s good to see this old Bible again.” There was such adoration in her voice.
“He did the same for me!” Walter exclaimed. “I’m sorry you’ve missed it, but I’m so glad God leant it to me. And I’m happy to be able to return it to you.” Walter slid the cover on the box and slipped it back into the cloth bag, handing it to her. “All your papers are still tucked in there, though I did read them. It seems intrusive, but I was blessed very much by your faith.”
The Power of the Holy Spirit
“It’s fine. God obviously had this planned. And I look forward to revisiting them now.” An aura of joy radiated from her. “I’d lost so much when I lost my husband,” she explained. “I was too ill to be on my own and ended up being hospitalized. Our house was lost in the process, and now I’m fortunate enough to have family that takes care of me. I live here with my granddaughter and her family. Thank you for finding me, and thank you for this,” she said, nodding to the bag now hanging from her arm. “I feel like you’ve just brought me the best gift possible. But that is how powerful the Holy Spirit is, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, and you’re very welcome.” Walter turned to leave. “Be blessed Ms. Knowles.”
“Mr. Dingman,” she called as he walked toward his car, “Thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit. Now, make sure your family knows you love them. I feel like that’s important. I know it’s been important to me.”
Her words struck him hard and deep. He pondered on them as he slipped behind the steering wheel of his ten year old silver Buick. Pulling away from the curb, he was overcome with emotion. How had she known? It had to have been God speaking through her, he was sure of that. The next phase of his journey now lay clearly before him. He was to reconcile with his family.
God’s Plan in Using A Lost Valuable
Firstly, God had reached out and purposely laid a lost valuable in Walter’s hands. In turn, he reached out to God, hungry for more and was led in a new way, into relationship, into forgiveness and mercy. In obedience to God’s guidance, he was led back to a camp on a back road in the woods.
Secondly, by an act of faith in trusting that God had placed it on his heart, Walter spent many months helping Mr. Patterson turn that little camp into a home. With his time, energy, and subtle investments, it was now a safe place, comfortable enough for Mr. Patterson to enjoy as long as he’d be able to.
God had united these two men, and they shared many deep conversations about Jesus and His love. These talks encouraged a more intimate relationship for Walter with the Lord. In the process, Walter determined he needed to find Ruth Knowles and return her Bible. The Lord’s blessings shouldn’t be kept to oneself, he’d thought, but shared with others.
And finally, by returning the lost valuable to Ms. Knowles, Walter felt he was a participant in spreading God’s love. The feeling gave him great joy and peace. It was clear to him now, that the will of God moved through the Holy Ghost within His children. It excited his faith all the more, so when he was pointed toward reconciliation with his family, he praised the Lord for the direction to face the next chapter of his life.
What Lost Valuable is God Leading You To Discover?
Thank you for reading my short story. I hope it has encouraged you to seek a more intimate relationship with God. In its simplicity, it illustrates how the Holy Ghost moves us to act and how valuable it is to be a willing participant, furthering the will of God. Most importantly, it highlights how exciting this new way of living can be when we’re in relationship with God.
What are you feeling led to do? What is God nudging you toward? Is there a lost valuable that needs to be returned: emotional, material, or personal? If so, be bold, step out on faith, and be a willing participant of God’s plan. Most importantly, keep your eyes on Him, rejoice in His revelations, and share His love with others.
For another short story written by me, click to read The Wall – Short Fiction.