The World is Our Oyster

I bought this at the beach years ago. Pearls are one of my favorite jewels. I love how they are formed and what we can learn through them.

Let me state the obvious; life won’t always be this way. The reign of the coronavirus will one day come to an end, and we will resume our regular activities and go back to life as usual.

Although I imagine that this transition back to everyday life will be gradual, I picture it as an epic ending to a movie. A symbolic one at that.

In it, COVID-19 will meet its demise in a final battle, and the smoke will clear and the dust and debris will begin to settle. Then, one by one, families will slowly start to come out of their homes.

As they assess the aftermath of the war, they will pick up the broken pieces that can be put back together again. Then they will tenderly sweep up the remaining fragments that are too shattered to be pieced back together. They will sweep them up not to throw them out, but rather to bury them in a sacred place where they can be mourned, honored, and remembered for what they once were.

The losses will be evident. Some of them already are. But grieving will be made fully possible when this saga comes to an end, and it will be accompanied by the hope of restoration for what has been broken but can be made new.

When the moment comes for each of us to build up what has been torn down and to bury what is forever gone, I hope we will remember that not all was lost during this time. I hope we will see what we have gained.

Can you see what you have gained so far as a result of living during this time? What is God doing in and through you in this current moment?

Recently, I read about how pearls are formed. Their initial formation begins when an oyster cannot expel an irritant, such as a parasite that has latched onto it. When this happens, the oyster secretes a fluid known as nacre with which it coats the parasite. After layer upon layer of covering the parasite in this material, the pearl is formed.1

I’ve heard it said before that the world is our oyster. If this is true—if the world is our oyster, then the coronavirus is our parasite. It has latched onto this earth tightly and will stay here for however long it will, as unwelcome as it is. But we don’t have to let it pollute our minds or get the best of us. We can, in fact, get the best out of this time through God’s working in us, because

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

This doesn’t mean we won’t have our hard days or struggles throughout the duration of this moment in history. However, the overarching theme of our lives can be one of faith because we know the goodness of our God, and we know our story’s ending involves an eternity beyond our wildest imaginations. This is where our hope lies.

In the meantime, God has given us our own “nacre” to combat the polluted thoughts of this parasite in this present time. He has given us His truth and the promises and hope we find in His Word. He has also given us fellow believers who can encourage us and be encouraged by us. And through all these things, we continue to be reminded that God is in control, and He continues to show us that there is still beauty to be seen in this world, because

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…

Psalm 24:1a

When we are anxious, afraid, or upset due to all things COVID-19, let’s choose to wrap up these thoughts in the nacre we have been given—not just once, but in layer upon layer.

We can’t change the fact that the coronavirus has come, nor can we undo any damage it has done. But if we continue to allow God to do a good work in us in the midst of the frustration, heartache, and discomfort, we might just see that we emerge out of this season with a whole lot of treasure. As of now, a shiny pearl is in the making. Let’s see the work through.

1 pearls.com

Birthday Letters and Treasures in Jars of Clay

I got to celebrate my birthday with my husband and son over the weekend. The day was wonderful, starting with a decadent breakfast of chocolate gem donuts and an assortment of fruit and ending with dinner at the Olive Garden and a free dessert of Italian donuts which we ate at a nearby outdoor café later that evening.

Each moment of the day was special to me, but the one I had most anticipated was reading a letter I had written to myself a year earlier.

This is something I have been doing for over a decade now. I scrummage in my desk drawers and/or closet for the letter I wrote to myself a year prior, then I head to the local Starbucks for my free birthday drink and a quiet table where I can read the letter and reflect on what the last year meant to me.

When I write these letters, I include a word that I believe will have described the year. I also talk about the possibilities of the year and ponder what may have become of them at the time I am reading the letter.

Most times, I forget what I have written in the letters, so I am able to read the letter with fresh eyes and to feel encouraged by what I wrote. This year, however, I remembered one crucial element about the letter by June. It was the word for the year—treasure.

In the moment of remembering it, I honestly felt disappointed. I had really hoped to treasure my family more and to find treasure in everyday life at the beginning of the year. And yet here I was, not doing any of that. I was really just trying to survive. Life was hard, and although I still had my family and many blessings, I found it hard to find treasure in the midst of our current circumstances.

Months later, however, I heard a DJ from KLOVE say something that got me to thinking that perhaps treasure was an appropriate word for the year after all.

The DJ quoted the following Bible verse:

And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you…”

Deuteronomy 26:18

As I started to think more about last year and all the hardships we faced as a family in light of this verse, it made me think that perhaps I hadn’t written the word “treasure” in vain because perhaps God had set out to make me a treasure this last year.

Many earthly treasures go through some sort of refining process in order to truly become a treasure. Gold and silver must be put to the fire in order to remove the dross, and diamonds and rubies have to face a great amount of heat and pressure in order to become a gem.

So perhaps this last year was meant to be a refining year for me—one that would place me in the fire and make me face great heat and pressure so that I could become a treasure to God, a “royal diadem” in His hand (Isaiah 62:3).

I look back over last year and have to confess that I don’t see much of a treasure in me. I just see the dross. But just as a true goldsmith sees unrefined gold and knows he is holding something of value, I believe that God is holding me and sees something of value in me—the treasure of His Son Jesus. And just as the goldsmith must rid the gold of its dross so that others can see its worth, God has been and is working in me to bring my “dross” to the surface and to rid me of it so that others can see this treasure of His Son in me.

As I think about this, all I can ask for is that I would never grow tired of the process of being refined when God places me in it. If we have this treasure in “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7), it’s worth going through the refining process to let Him be seen and to make Him known. I recognize that it doesn’t necessarily make the process of refining easier. But it makes it worth it. It makes it oh so worth it! Let’s continue to press on and to press in to Him!