When you consider your past, do you ever ask yourself, God, and others what good can come from it? I have. I have often wondered, “Lord, what was all THAT about? What good are you going to bring from THAT?”
It is a normal question as most of us have pasts that are at the very least messy, if not a complete demolition zone of hurt, anger, pain, bitterness, frustration, abuse, and lies. We look at it and cant find even one redeemable thing about any part of it. And from a human perspective – and we are humans – there is no upcycling of the past into any good for today or the future. We just head off to therapy hoping to process it, grieve it, and then never look back.
But God tells us something far different. He tells us our days were ordained before one came to be, that He intentionally wove us in our mother’s wombs, and that He has called us from before the foundation of the world to do works He has planned for us on this earth. So if He knew all our days and that He was going to call us to do His work, then He also must have known the messy, hurtful life I would live as His kid. Now there is so much more to that truth I just said right there and I promise to return to it in another blog post, but my gist for today is that He knew what would be in your past and how HE would upcycle it for your good and His glory.
I want you to consider for a moment the life of an oyster hanging out in the ocean minding its own business. Along comes a swirl of sand and even though it braces itself and clamps its mouth shut, a grain of sand makes it in. It then works its way into its deep, tender fleshy parts and starts hurting like heck. It works to get it out, but it will not budge without getting more grains in – one is currently enough to deal with. It begins to find ways of coating that grain of sand to remove its rough edges and day after day and year after year and a decade or so later it discovers it doesn’t hurt as much. A fisherman catches it up in a net and cracks it open. Yes, this too is painful. But inside he discovers a beautiful pearl. It is so large and so perfect that he is able to take a long vacation in the Bahamas on the sale of it to a jeweller. The jeweller sells it to a woman who just has to have it because it reminds her of her great grandma’s string of pearls lost in a fire so long ago. She has it mounted on a delicate chain and she shares a story her grandma told her every time someone comments on it. Her grandma’s stories go forward to a new generation of women who need to hear them.
Now imagine that that oyster is YOU. The grain is the hurt of your life that made its way into the life the Lord allowed you to live and knew would occur before the foundation of the world. The layers formed over the hurt are the ways He has strengthened you to endure over time – His Word, a friend’s prayers, community, etc. He knows when to harvest it and how to move it on to others who can find hope in tomorrow because of your pain in the past which He has now redeemed. The beauty He has formed out of your pain will encourage others with their grain, knowing good can come from their past as the Lord has done in yours. He moves the gospel story forward to others who need to hear it. Your pearl has been added to the string of other believer’s lives redeemed that He is forming. All display His glory.
You see the pearl has value because He chose to harvest it, knowing how it was formed and why it was formed. He knew He would make beauty from your ashes, because He is beautiful and you are His daughter. It is for the same reason that Jesus had to suffer and not be rescued from the cross. A pearl was being formed – a Gospel Pearl. This pearl is our treasure, hung around our necks – hidden in our hearts – and meant to be shared with everyone who asks us of the saving hope we have in Christ.
Now I could just as easily have shared about how diamonds are made through prolonged pressure or how tree roots grow deeper in strong winds, but a pearl speaks to me of the response WE have to life’s hurt when we believe God is up to something FOR OUR GOOD and HIS GLORY. We must trust His process, believing He will make us beautiful in His time and that He will be glorified by the pearl our life produces as we share it with others. This sharing is a telling of His stories of faithfulness, goodness, power, love, and grace – in community, through the word, a hug, a prayer.
What has the grains of life produced in your life that you can pass on to others? Something about God, yourself, others? How do you see God using it to give hope in and through you?