I sometimes watch YouTube videos of people grinding raw pieces of rock containing opal, to see if they can produce a gem of great value. There will be places on the rock that give the polisher hope. The color will show through a little. Clearly there is some opal inside the rock. But the major thing that can be seen on the outside is often sand or quartz that has hardened and must be removed. Whether or not a gem of great value emerges will depend in large part on the skill of the polisher.
The pieces need to be held up by hand to a series of grindstones, which are basically wet, spinning sandpaper. The idea is to expertly shave off the impurities from the rock while not destroying the good opal that is underneath. But it is the nature of the beast that as the grindstone does its work, it will remove small bits of good opal. It is unavoidable and a shame, because the opal will be valuable based in part on its size.
I watched recently as an expert was taking a large piece to the wheel. When he was through, the finished piece was given a value of $30,000! But as he was grinding, he had a friend, also an expert, watching. And for a while, every single time he touched the piece to the grindstone, his friend kept repeating, “There goes a hundred dollars. There goes a hundred dollars. There goes…” It made me nervous and all I was doing was watching the video! I would have kicked the friend out.
I suspect we all feel like the opal sometimes and perhaps even more so today. Our lives in this nation are rubbing up against anger and disease and uncertainty. We know that if we will allow it to happen, God and life will refine us and polish us. But at times it is easy to doubt whether or not our life is emerging as a valuable gem. Are we growing? Are we becoming more beautiful and valuable and helpful to others?
At times the growing is painful. Doesn’t it feel like every now and then we hit the end of the day but our good sides have been ground off along with the bad? “There goes a $100! There goes a $100!” The grindstone is spinning rapidly. It takes trust to see our lives in the hand of a Master Polisher who sees the beauty of the finished product.
I simply want to remind you of the truth to encourage you. God is expertly working for those who love him to bring about good in us far more valuable than we can imagine. And he is not limited as is the finite shaper of opal. Have faith! His work is perfect and perfectly done.
Rom. 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Rick Cupp is minister at Kenai Fellowship. We are currently meeting outside the church building at 11 a.m. on Sundays to maintain social distancing. We will soon be moving inside but will continue to follow guidelines about how to safely do so.