When I was younger we used to occasionally vacation in Maine. One of my favorite destinations was a coastline beach around Bar Harbor.
It was rugged beach, covered with more rocks than sand. Just offshore were defiant islands of stone with a few brave trees and scrub bushes clinging to life against the odds and the weather.
A place where waves would crash onto shore, dragging rocks back into the depths and the pebbles would rattle against each other as they resisted the waves. My brothers and I would walk along the beach picking up rocks and shells. The rocks, washed clean in the ocean water, would glisten in the bright sunlight.
Once in a while we might catch a glimpse of a stone of remarkable beauty. We would pick these up and put them in our pockets.
At the end of the day, we would have collected enough ballast to brave even the strongest winds along that coastal shore. When we got back home and emptied our pockets, I would wonder why I saved or even picked up many of these stones. The beauty I first saw in them as they sparkled in the sunlight, still wet from the ocean, was gone. There was no shine left, the colors and patterns have faded. They became unremarkable, no more interesting than rocks you might find along the side of the road.
My brother was a rock collector too, though he was more discriminating in the rocks he selected for his pockets. He collected rocks so that he could polish them.
He polished the stones in our basement with a tumbling machine filled with abrasive grit. The stones would be turned in this grit for weeks, the abrasives grinding away all the roughness, the dullness, and the imperfections.
When it was time, he reached into the grit and pulled out the stones, which were now revealed in all their God given glory.
What was momentary was now lasting. It was there for all to see.
Reflecting on this as we approach another season of Lent, I am struck by how much we are like those stones. It is sometimes hard to see the image of God in us and in others. It is fleeting.
We catch a glimpse, like the beauty of rocks glistening at the water’s edge. But much of life is dull, routine, and ordinary. Some of it is painful and disappointing. The abrasive grit is where we live. However, it is through this grit that the rough edges are worn smooth, the dullness rubbed away, and the glory of God is revealed.
St. John writes, "Beloved, now we are the children of God - what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we know that when he comes we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
This is a word of hope for all of us. As a discipline for the Lenten season, I invite you to think about the grit in your life. And if you can find it within yourself, give thanks for these things, remembering that it is by the grit that God’s glory is revealed. Now we may see only a glimpse, but then we will see fully.
Have a blessed week and go to a House of Worship this Sunday to see how God can be revealed in your life!
Combs is pastor of Pembroke United Methodist Church. He wrote this on behalf of the North Bryan Ministerial Association.