When my children were little they would bring home pockets full of rocks. While my daughter did have a skill for finding fossils in our area, most of the rocks she and her brothers would bring home were worthless other than for cluttering our tables, shelves, and any other place they chose to dump them. Given their interest in finding pretty rocks, my wife and I decided to take them on an expedition into the wilderness a few hours from our home to do something called “rockhounding”. Rockhound is the nickname given to folks who hunt for gemstones. So we went to abandoned mines and documented mineral deposits with our kids (all safe and child-friendly), to help them find real minerals and gemstones. We brought home samples of green apatite, black tourmaline, corundum (the base mineral for rubies and sapphires), beryl (the base mineral for emeralds and aquamarine), and plenty of large pieces of quartz, among others. Last week we did this again and had a lovely time as a family, out in the woods with social distancing being something we only did back home—since there wasn’t anyone around to distance ourselves from.
One place required a lovely little hike into the wilderness along a trail to get to a mineral deposit of purple fluorite. While we chipped away at some veins of the mineral that were in a small cavern, we had more success scooping out a few buckets of loose stones from inside the cave—the leftovers of previous rockhounds—and sifting through those rocks to find pieces of this colourful gemstone.
We would start by picking up a rock that by all appearances looked to be a worthless pebble. Here is a picture of what one looked like:
They were typically covered in some kind of mud, so we would spray them with a little bottle of water to clean them off, then hold them up to the sunlight. Here is a photo of the exact same pebble, just cleaned up and held in the light:
This process reminds me for what God does for us. The world looks at us and sees nothing but a filthy mess, so generally just walks on by. Or worse, they step right on us, driving us further into the mud. All they see is a worthless pebble. But not so with God.
God looks at us and sees a masterpiece. We are imprinted with the very image of God, and so the Good Lord looks at us and recognizes his creation. In the book of Ezekiel God compares Israel to someone who was discarded and left for dead.
On the day you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was not cut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. 5 No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die.
6 “But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’ 7 And I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel.
This is what God does for us: we are taken out of the dirt and cleaned up to become a beautiful jewel. The passage continues
When I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
9 “Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. 10 I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. 11 I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, 12 a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. 13 And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and costly fabric and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were! 14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.
Not only does God heal our wounds and clean us up, he offers to make a covenant with us, and it says that God perfects our beauty; the Lord improves us, bit by bit. He gives us glory that comes from none other than our creator God. We are shaped and transformed into something more lovely than we could have ever imagined.
What tremendous news for those of us who have been stepped on and pushed down and called worthless! Just like a little rock found in the dirt, the Lord raises us up, heals us, cleanses us, and in the presence of the light of the Lord we shimmer and shine. He makes a covenant with us, and we can continue to become more beautiful, instead of staying in the darkness of the pit.
This passage however, also comes with a warning:
But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking. 16 You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols, where you played the prostitute. Unbelievable! How could such a thing ever happen? 17 You took the very jewels and gold and silver ornaments I had given you and made statues of men and worshiped them. This is adultery against me!
My little piece of purple fluorite does not shine and glimmer without the presence of a light to reveal its true beauty. Likewise, our true beauty is not our own, but it is the work of God within us. When we forget that fact, we—like ancient Israel—tend to stray from God. We tend to think that the blessings of God are something we earned ourselves.
I’m not sure where you find yourself today: maybe you feel like you are at the bottom of a cave somewhere, deep in the dirt, and you feel like a worthless pebble. If that resonates with you, then remember that God is willing to clean you up and fill you with his light so you can shimmer and shine in the unique way that you are created to.
On the other hand, perhaps you have been walking with God for a long time, and the amazing story of how God redeemed you and loves you has begin to feel boring. Maybe you take for granted the amazing gift of God’s love, and have started to feel like your beauty is your own. If this is where you are today, then I want to remind you how dangerous it can be to walk down that path. Remember the source of your beauty, and stay near the Lord who’s light is the only thing that enable you to shine the way you do.
Regardless of where you find yourself today, the best thing to do is to come back once again to the Lord, the one who loves you, the one who brings healing, and the one who can make you shimmer and shine like “a beautiful jewel.”