Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are You The Pearl Or The Irritant?

"Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear and that they may learn . . ."  Deuteronomy 31:12

We are surrounded on all sides these days with ministers and lay people reminding us that we are where we are right now because God wants us here to learn something.  Sometimes  --  but not always  --  this is true.

I once asked God what my role on this earth actually was.  Clearly and distinctly I got the response.  "You are a catalyst."  Lo and behold when I look back on my life, I have found situation after situation where I have been used to effect change.  So, you see, I believe that not all lessons are meant for us.  Sometimes we are placed in difficult situations because our boss, our neighbor, a casual acquaintance needs to grow stronger.

Now that I know my role, I can take a little more relaxed view of my world.  I probably need to quit bellyaching so much about some situations, and when I find myself doing so, I'm reminded that sometimes the lessons are meant for me.

The time I was told my role, I reminded God that sometimes I can be vulnerable to pain also.  I don't mind being used to bring change where it is needed.  But is there any way it could hurt a little less?

I'm reminded now of the "birthing" of a pearl.  We know that a pearl's very existence requires a grain of sand or other irritant to cause an oyster to secrete the substance that surrounds the grain and turns it into a pearl.  Sometimes the pearl turns out to be a perfect size and shape.  Sometimes it turns into a baroque.

When I was very young, I saw a movie about discovery of a pearl that showed great promise.  In order to be sure, a pearl specialist had to polish and rub it down to find it's worth.  There was a big to do about it.  The specialist sat at a wooden table out of doors with a breathless audience watching.  In the end, the specialist dropped the irritant, not a beautiful pearl, into the pile of unusable nacre.  I suspect it was an honor that nature had chosen that oyster to attempt to make a pearl from an irritant, whatever the final outcome.

Perhaps we should feel honored when we find ourselves in situations where we are being used for others to learn and grow.  In the end, it is for God, our specialist, to determine the value of the pearl, just as it was His judgment as to whether our life experiences were meant for us to learn or teach or both.  We can accept our roles or fight them.  I suspect either way, student or teacher, we will have learned from each other.  Is there any other way?  And, by the way, God, I am honored to serve, even if it hurts.

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