by Grandma Joyce Neal
My old rock tumbler sits alone and covered with cobwebs in a corner of my dusty shed. I haven’t used it for many months now, and on my back porch, a bucketful of raw agates are waiting to be polished.
So what am I waiting for? I think now would be a good time to clean it up and put it to use again. Know why? ’Cause I need a happy reminder of how sanctification works in real life. I really need to watch a parable in action over several months, allowing its lessons to sink deep into my soul.
You know, I grew up in an era when we never talked about justification, sanctification, or—heaven forbid—salvation by faith! It was every man for himself back in those days, and we were on our own to figure out how to do it.
Being a kid and all, it was so hard to behave in even a reasonably good way—you know, just good enough to avoid getting yelled at by parents or teachers—let alone tackling my motives and attitudes. I thought God and His Heaven must surely work the same way, so I tried in vain to be just good enough to keep the peace, while keeping my freedom to be me! It sure was tricky—and hard work, besides!
But now that I’ve grown up a little, every once in a while I still tend to forget what I’ve learned in the meantime. I forget how much God is willing to do to put success in my pathway. I forget He’s on my side. I forget He actually wants to save me for His kingdom. I even forget that He has my name inscribed on His hands.
How can I lose track of all that so easily, and so often? I guess I just gradually slip back into old thought patterns over time without noticing it. Then, first thing I know, I’m sad, depressed, discouraged, and trying to figure out (all over again) how to have victory and a happy, peaceful mind and heart.
That’s where this old rock tumbler comes in. I can see it all now—God walks along the creek bank every day, searching for rocks with potential. His eyes quickly alight on His jewels mixed in with the gravel and mud. He carefully lifts each one, wipes it on His sleeve, and squints as He holds it up to the light to catch a glimpse of the beauty hidden deep within.
Then, with great loving care, He tears off a little corner of His spotless white robe (how does it stay so clean when He’s down in the muck with us?) and gently wraps it around His newfound treasure. Right then, He starts out for home with His hanky, and all that it contains, held safely in both hands.
Then into the rock tumbler we go—along with all the other rough gems—and life begins to spin us around in a seemingly pointless cycle of bumping, jostling, and grinding. In the process, some of our “best points” get broken off as we bump into people’s sharp edges (and we can’t imagine why!). Grit rubs us the wrong way, and all the other stones are downright abrasive. (Never mind the fact that we rub them the same way!) How come this process can’t be hurried up, anyway?
Then I’m reminded that while it takes just a few months to polish a rock, it takes a lifetime to polish a person. But hang in there—it’s worth it in the end.
And here’s the really good news: while we’re in the tumbler, we are one of His! Doesn’t even matter how rough and unfinished we are; if we stay in the tumbler we are one of His gems for eternity—and we’re in a perfectly safe place!
With lots of love,
—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World