Focus: Moving forward
1 Timothy 4:15 (NIV) Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
I went to a gem show last Sunday. I like to make necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. It’s a hobby that gives me a lot of satisfaction because it doesn’t require a lot of time and the results can always be unique and fun.
The gem show was held at a large auditorium where many tables displayed thousands of strands of glass, metal, stone, shell, and pearl beads. I wandered through the aisles a few times before settling on what I would purchase. I ‘watch myself’ as I shop at events like gem shows. I wait to see what I am drawn to repeatedly and don’t just pick up the first thing that jumps out at me.
In the end, I went back to a vendor who had some irregular shaped, dark gray fresh water pearls. There were many vendors who had the same sort of pearls at the show, but I liked the pearls this merchant had because they were ‘less perfect’ than the rest. I will make a set of jewelry from these irregular pearls that remind me of myself.
Pearls are special to me because they come from something living and are produced as a result of an ‘irritation’. The oyster is capable of producing a number of pearls in its lifetime and doesn’t necessarily die when a pearl is harvested.
Wow, think about that. Are you irritated with stuff, people, work, responsibilities that you can’t get rid of? Maybe there is something here for you.
When something comes inside its shell, an oyster can’t just ‘eject’ it. As much as it would probably like to, it isn’t really possible. What happens to that little grain of sand or irritant–is that it begins to be coated with a substance called nacre–produced by the oyster. Layer after layer of nacre coats the irritant.
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The whole process of building up layers of nacre around the irritant, keeps it from becoming a contaminant and reduces the degree of irritation to the oyster. By covering the irritant with this shield of sorts, the oyster’s own life is saved and something good and valuable comes from the foreign object that entered the shell.
When I came back to God at age 26, I had a hard time forgetting about the nine years I thought I had ‘wasted’. I felt like I was already old. I had so many regrets about things I had done and my failed relationships. There was no going back and fixing a lot of the damage done. I could only give the mess to God and hope I would never sink that low again.
A lot of years have passed since then and now I see that life is a lot like pearl production. Stuff happens. Irritants come into our life and we can choose to let them be a disturbance—or we can make them into pearls. When things come at us that we can’t get away from—we don’t necessarily have to think that they are interruptions in the progress of our spiritual life. The irritant may be something sent from the Master’s hand for us to ‘work on’ and use as an opportunity to create something beautiful in the form of a lesson learned—that showed us more about the love and compassion of God.
In that sense, you can imagine each of your memories of failure as something that came in and took up residence for a while in your life. If you just live thinking that negative experience was a waste—that’s all it ever will be. But if you look at it as ‘hard won wisdom’ and something you will never do again—it is a pearl of great price.
Trials and irritants are a normal occurrence when you are trying to live a life that counts. The Word of God says that there will be many afflictions in a righteous person’s life. The important thing is to keep making progress and learn to see the beauty that can be produced from something that we could have allowed to kill us.
In your lifetime, you will no doubt accumulate a whole string of pearls. Individually the pearls, which represent lessons learned and wisdom won may not be perfect and beautiful to behold…but when you put them all together, the collection creates an amazing one of a kind ‘you’.
None of us are perfect. We’ve all made more mistakes than we care to recall, but day by day, as we continue to learn and grow from things we can’t necessarily change—we’re making progress and something beautiful is taking place in our life.
Declaration: I will find new strength by looking for value in past lessons learned and keep moving forward.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.