Nancy was a sweet little girl, but the poor little lady was enduring a really rough week. Nothing was going well for her; she was having a horrible week at school and a difficult time with some boisterous bullies on the school bus. She was praying faithfully every night, but God seemed silent to her pleas, shaking her young faith and leaving her wallowing in and ocean of discouragement. And now her class was going on a special field trip to a huge aquarium, and Nancy was apprehensive…what could possibly go wrong today? Little did Nancy know that she was about to learn an important lesson on trusting and waiting, and that lesson would arise from an unlikely source…an oyster.
I love weaving stories for children, and if you haven’t already figured it out, this was a pretend story that I recently shared online with my little ones. The aquarium oyster noticed Nancy’s forlorn appearance, and questioned as to the source of her obviously sullen spirit. All of the frustrations that Nancy had endured that week, a week that seemed incredibly long and hurtful to her, came pouring out. Well, since the oyster knew all about hurtful waiting, he related to this sad little girl the pearl-forming process, a process that can be both painful and beautiful at the same time.
The real-life pearl formation process is quite mystical indeed. How do these commonplace little mollusks turn out those exquisitely lustrous, nearly perfect spheres, that we refer to as pearls? It’s a complicated process, a process authored by an imaginative Creator. Oysters have two shells, and each of those shells feature a protective layer, or mantle, that covers the oyster’s organs. The mantle is responsible for safeguarding the vital organs that keep the little critter alive. When an irritant, such as sand, makes its way between the shell and mantle, a wondrous process begins. The creature produces nacre, a protective coating that helps reduce the irritation by surrounding and coating it. Layers and layers of nacre coat the irritant, eventually forming an iridescent gem, or pearl. The entire process can take as little as six months or as long as four years to complete, but regardless of the time involved, the birth of the pearl is stunning and wondrous.
I personally don’t like to wait…at all! I’m that annoying, hyperactive gal, the one who wants to have a task accomplished days before it has even begun. I get frustrated waiting on fast food, standing in an endless line at the local Walmart, or weaving behind that slow-poke driver who obviously has way too much time on their hands. And sadly, I can also be prone to exhibit the same attitude while waiting upon God. But God rarely does anything according to my timeframe, and, if I am not careful, I can forget that He ALWAYS has a plan and purpose for all those irritants in my life. My sovereign Creator has good reasons for making me wait, for there is always a lesson to be learned in the process. Waiting is a part of life and one of God’s tools for developing us spiritually and drawing us closer to Him. The Bible is full of accounts of God’s servants, such as Job, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and countless others, who patiently waited upon their sovereign God to act, to resolve a difficult situation, to respond to their pleas.
Waiting has a way of rubbing off the rough edges in our lives, just as that sharp-edged piece of sand irritating that poor oyster is covered and smoothed by that mother-of-pearl coating excreted by the mollusk. We see that smoothing process in the life of Moses, who was miraculously transformed from a brash and impetuous young man into a faithful leader of Israel, after developing that pearl of patience while in seclusion on the back side of a desert for FORTY years. I may not enjoy the wait, but the good news is that God never asks me to wait alone, without Him, for He promises never to leave me, or forsake me. While I am in the trenches, in the heat of the battle, feeling alone and impatient, I have an intimate, loyal Friend Who “sticketh closer than a brother.”
Perhaps this writing finds you with that painful irritant rubbing against your life; you find yourself discouraged, seeing no end to the trial expectantly thrust upon your life. Since success in life is directly proportionate to our intimacy and dependency upon our God, let’s allow those pearl-forming moments to remind us that “all things work together for good to them love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He is creating a pearl, and it will be stunning and beautiful if we are submissive and allow the process to work out in our lives.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
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