I’m finally feeling rested following my son’s wedding two weeks ago! It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day, my son looked so handsome in his tuxedo, my daughter-in-law was radiant and sweet in her lovely dress, the ceremony was a powerful testimony to God’s love and faithfulness, and everyone enjoyed the warmhearted fellowship and fun.
The next day, however, my body rebelled and my brain turned to “mush”. What better way to relax than at my parents’ cottage along the seashore?! I could hardly wait to pursue one of my favorite pastimes – collecting sea glass while taking long walks on the beach. After several years I’ve learned much about this treasure. Where does the glass come from? Why are certain colors so rare? How old must the pieces be? Of particular fascination too are the sparse fragments of pottery.
I’ve learned that the most precious and sought-after pieces are defined not only by their color but by the degree of smooth edging and surface etching. Many people think it is simply the rubbing of the glass along the rough seabed that gives it this well-worn texture, but wave action, water temperature, and chemical changes also play significant roles. It can take many decades, or even centuries, to smooth the sharp edges and cause a shard to become a prized and valuable possession to serious collectors.
That really got me thinking…often we look at ourselves or others and see the brokenness, jagged edges, flaws, inabilities, anger, bitterness, and all those other things that make us feel or appear useless. How could one so full of imperfections ever be valuable and useful to God?
For hundreds of years three basic ingredients have been used in making glass - sand, soda, and lime (although other additives may be introduced). Eventually, sea glass will break down and become sand once again creating a useful habitat for sea creatures and providing for our enjoyment. It must go through that long process, though, of having all its rough edges worn smooth. This never happens in calm waters.
God created the first man out of the dust of the earth. He creates each person with a free will to choose the direction of his life. When that person surrenders her life to her Creator, trusting it to His care, God will use every circumstance she faces to smooth off the rough edges, etch His character on her own, and shape her into a precious and rare individual who is both useful and significant.
We may find ourselves being roughly scraped along the sands of life, crushed against the rocks that bruise and scar us, tossed to and fro by currents that threaten to drown us in despair, or embedded in hidden places for extended periods of time, but that is exactly what God uses to refine us.
Are you feeling overwhelmed on the seashores of life? I have…many times. It is then I remind myself of this hope, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (II Corinthians 4:17)
Sea glass…often overlooked or discarded with disinterest…but what an invaluable truth it holds!