Pearls are formed when a foreign particle enters an oyster. To protect itself from irritation the oyster secretes nacre—the same substance that strengthens the inside of the shell, known as mother of pearl. Nacre contains calcium carbonate, a nutrient taken from the food the oyster has consumed. Nacre surrounds the irritant in thousands of layers over the lifetime of the oyster, building the pearl. The more nacre that has been applied, the larger and more valuable the pearl.
I wonder how many layers of nacre it takes before the oyster’s irritant no longer causes wounding. Once the pain ceases, does the oyster still experiences a measure of discomfort, requiring continued applications? After multiple ministrations, does that nacre-enveloped irritant eventually become the “new normal”? Even then, I suspect the oyster will never identify this substance as a jewel. It will take the eye of an outside observer to recognize its immense value.
Perhaps you thought your life was sufficiently attractive without the need for jewelry making. I know I sure did. In fact, I thought I was a much lovelier person before I became a parent. Like that in the oyster’s shell, the nacre in my life had already produced strength and beauty. But the rare and enduring quality is found not in the shell; it’s found in the pearl—and pearls require an irritant.
In our lives, irritants enter uninvited. Once there, they don’t go away. We must deal with them whether we want to or not. It matters not that we feel undeserving, intruded upon, or victimized; the new inhabitant needs attention. If we respond with resentment or bitterness, wounding will result. However, if we secrete spiritual nacre, we will find what was once an affliction has emerged a priceless gem.
And how do we develop healthy spiritual nacre? By continuously feeding on the Word of God and anything else that contains Scriptural truth (like worship music). Surrounding ourselves with people whose lives reflect Biblical values also enriches our nutritional resources.
I am sharing my pearls with you, developed through the challenges of parenting rough-edged children. I trust you will find nutrients to ingest and apply to the irritants in your own life. I pray that the truths of God’s Word, given to express God’s heart, will coat your heart with strength and beauty.
I pray you’ll cherish the treasures God has chosen to plant deep into your soul—not the treasures you thought you’d find, but those from Him—those of eternal value—those that someday you’ll witness as you pass the pearl gates into His kingdom (Revelation 21:21).
copyright February 2016 by Cheri Johnson