The Iridescence of Pain

I apologize that I haven’t written for a little while as I’ve been working on my book!  I am taking today off because I wanted you to have some encouragement now – while we wait for other events to transpire.

I was thinking about pearls today.  Did you know that a natural pearl starts from a microscopic irritation or parasite that invades a mollusk?  Yup. The offending item gets surrounded as a way to protect the clam and as layer after layer forms to isolate the irritation, something beautiful and precious emerges.

In James 1, after some talk about the benefit of persevering under trials (and counting as joy?), a few verses later says this:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Jas 1:17 HCSB)

Trials and irritations in our life can either destroy us; resulting in bitterness, anger, wrath and other not so nice attributes, or they can create in us character that shines for the glory of God.  Peace, joy, faithfulness. . . a gift.

A pearl starts with a minor irritation.  Maybe you have a major one in your life; a spouse that’s challenging, or a kid that has special needs, or a chronic health issue or pain. It’s up to you to decide whether you will take the irritant that you cannot expel (clams are unable to simply kick the irritant out of their shell), and let it fester or allow it to grow wonderful things in your heart.

Godly character cannot be manufactured.  Pearls can be grown and ‘cultured” – but they do not compare in the quality and priceless value of one that begins wild, organic, in the ocean starting with an irritant.  We can fake it if we want, but when compared to true character, we will pale in comparison to someone who has allowed trials to mold and polish them in the image of Christ.

I want to shine. I want to shimmer and reflect God’s goodness and love to me that covers all those yucky irritations in my life. Heck, I should have a glorious string of pearls at this point in my life!  Maybe they will be part of the crown Jesus gives me when I meet Him in the heavenlies!

I’m praying that today you recognize the beauty that comes as you persevere through trials so you can have an incomparable iridescence as the priceless treasure that you are to our King!

Blessings!
LGB

My Island of Misfit Toys, Part II

Okay, so been thinking more about the misfit thing.  Then I remembered that Paul felt that way too.  Remember Paul?  He was a noted theologian of his day and righteously protecting the faith when all of a sudden, WHAM!  He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and was blinded by the LIGHT!

After that he had to go and wait three days, to meet a man who would restore his sight. (This is Acts 9).  Can you imagine poor Ananias?  God calls him to go to Damascus and meet with Paul (then called Saul) who was known to murder followers of Jesus.  Yikes!  Talk about faithful obedience.  Ananias went, and Paul received his sight, and chose to follow Jesus. He went to join the other believers in Christ.

He had a little problem though.  His reputation preceded him everywhere he went!  Leaders amongst believers in Christ were hesitant to embrace him. He no longer fit with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day.  He was truly a misfit!  God obviously made a good choice though in this strong willed man who was grounded in Scripture and had converted to becoming a follower of Jesus.  He persevered, was eventually accepted and embraced by the budding young Christian church and went on to become one of the most powerful forces in spreading the gospel.

Peter writes about us being as sojourners and aliens (some versions say exiles) in a foreign land.  (1 Peter 2:11)  Hmmmm.  Another translation might be misfit!  When Christ calls us out of darkness in to His glorious light, we are adopted into His family.  We learn a new way of living and thinking and obedience to Him doesn’t always make sense to the outside world. Our new home is heaven.  We’ve just got a job to do before we reach our final destination.  Scripture if full of misfits.

Jesus himself did not have a home the three years he wandered Israel teaching and leading and healing. . . He too was a misfit. Scripture says in Isaiah that there was nothing in him to draw us to him. He wasn’t the handsome surfer dude we sometimes see depicted.

So, do you feel like a misfit, sometimes?  If so, then you and I are not alone, but instead fall into some mighty impressive company!  I’m so glad that God doesn’t make cookie-cutter Christians.  We don’t have to look alike or wear the same clothing or even serve with the same gifts. God’s glory is magnified through the unity expressed in diversity within the body of Christ, His bride, the church.

I need to remember this when the world tells me I need to be a certain size, or that my children need to be raised in a perfect manner and that my home should be decorated, just so.  My kids are not going to grow up perfect. NO matter how hard I try, that is not possible, so I can relax and trust that as I obey God, HE will do HIS perfect work in and through me and my children for HIS glory. My home could be gone in the short span of one fire – it’s all just “stuff.”  And my body size – I’m glad God knew I would be the way I am right now today and loves me just the same!  We may all be misfits in some way, shape or form, but maybe that’s exactly what will set us apart for God’s glory to shine to the world.

The world doesn’t take kindly to those who march to the beat of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul was  crucified upside down.  Will you be brave enough to follow?  Ananias was.  Because of that one choice to obey – the Good News of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection spread throughout the world.  A ripple effect that continues in and through us today.  Wow.  Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be a misfit after all?