From trash to treasure

May 14, 2011 — 1 Comment

I love living five minutes from the ocean, fifteen minutes from a good beach. We can choose from quite a variety from rocky coves to fine lagoons. I don’t go as often as I’d like, but thanks to Sam and Jeff, I went several times last month.


Unfortunately, for all of their natural beauty, the beaches aren’t very clean. Pop quiz: why?
1] Students are not indoctrinated with litterbug campaigns at an impressionable young age.
2] There are no trash cans at the beach.

3] The diligent city street sweepers don’t patrol the beach.
4] The culture views public space as no man’s land, not as their civic responsibility.
The answer: all of the above. The result:
The beach is strewn with all kinds of trash including broken bottles that have shattered into dozens of pieces. How the pieces get scattered along the soft sand is a mystery to me, especially in places where the parking area isn’t covered in asphalt. Walking to the water requires looking down so you can dodge the dangerous and unsightly bits of glass.
But amazingly, the ugly shards of glass will eventually be worn down into smooth, pebble-like pieces of sea glass. It’s an impressive transformation by the simple forces of water and rock. Some people collect it and turn it into beautiful jewelry. Trash turns into treasure.**

How long does it take for the pounding surf to soften the edges of glass? A season, a year, a decade? No one really knows. In the States, thanks to plastic and litterbug campaigns, sea glass is becoming harder to find and people are beginning to make it from scratch. One man estimated it took a few weeks of nonstop rolling around in an electric tumbler to wear down pieces of glass.**
I have my own sharp edges that God is smoothing down. Years after I invited the Holy Spirit to take up residence in me, I’m still being polished.

I used to despair that the jagged parts would never become smooth. I’d look at an older kindly saint and assume they were just born that way. Now I know better. Soft edges come from the long loving work of God.

Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy talks about the gaps in this world between the places where God rules and those still under enemy control. “Sometimes the places where God’s effective rule is not yet carried out lie within the lives and little kingdoms of those who truly have been invaded by the eternal kind of life. The interior castle of the human soul as Teresa of Avila called it, has many rooms, and they are slowly occupied by God, allowing us time and room to grow.”

I like that image of God’s slow and steady occupation in all the corners of my life. I’ve sometimes wished for instant change and sudden miraculous reforming, God takes a slower approach–either because of my stubbornness or His gentleness [I suspect it is both.]

It’s not always pleasant to tumble through God’s sanctifying surf. But it’s necessary if I want to avoid wounding people with my own brokenness and instead become an instrument of grace.

His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.
Ephesians 4:30-5:2 The Message

**Links
Liliana Designs Sea Glass Jewelry

How to find real sea glass: The best time to look is during the spring tides, or during the first low tide after a storm.

How to cheat and make your own sea glass:”I put together a large volume tumbler for smoothing broken glass. With a hammer and brick in a basin, I break bottles into small pebble size pieces. Then I load the tumbler with the glass, some coarse sand, some lava rock and water.”

One response to From trash to treasure

  1. 

    Another excellent post! I love that metaphor (and that jewelry). Have you read Isobel Kuhn's Stones of Fire? She talks about opals, and how the glints of colour and light in the stone are actually cracks, flaws, formed under pressure. The metaphor is pretty obvious–that in our brokeness, Christ can shine through.

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