“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
– James 1:2-4
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
– Galatians 6:9
Okay, so I was just randomly talking to my wife the other day and there was an example that came up that just completely blew my mind! I pray that this visual example and analogy will strengthen your faith in some way today!
Have you ever been gem mining before? No, I’m not talking about like legit looking for real gold like miners do. I’m talking about the kind of gem mining you used to do as a kid, where you’d go to this cool nature place, whether a farm or state park and they would have a gem mine area set up. It would be like a big trough with water running through it and each kid would get a tray of a whole bunch of sand or dirt and in the midst of all that sand, there would be some top notch prize rocks in the bottom. To go through the process of gem mining, you’d have to take your tray and shake it some, letting all that sand fall through and then stick the tray down in the water. The water would wash the sand completely away and you’d be left with a tray filled with all of these cool different kind of rocks such as fool’s gold, emeralds, rubies, and many different awesome rocks! I remember as a kid, at first it looked like just a pile of dirt that didn’t seem all that cool, but as the gem mining took place. I was completely blown away and in amazement at all the different rocks I would have in my tray. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced gem mining before but just in case you haven’t, I’ve placed a video below that shows some kids displaying what gem mining is for you so you can see what I’m talking about.
Why am I talking about gem mining???
Well, the more I got to thinking about it, it struck me that our lives as followers of Christ is so similar to the process of gem mining. We start off as believers in Christ, coming from former lives that weren’t very good in a lot of ways, we all had different struggles and things we carried from our past. We all carry that dirt with us from our old life to this new life we have with Christ. The idea that once someone becomes saved and is this perfect and holy person, never sins again or never messes up. That’s just not possible. We come into this life with Christ and we still have a lot of this old dirt but now that we are living with Jesus, the more we walk with Him and grow with Him, the more He opens us up to see that there is all these really cool rocks, unique gifts, a shiny new purpose, and so many awesome gifts that we never knew were there, until Jesus came along.
What I want to point out to you today is that yes, we all have dirt in our lives, whether it’s from our old lives before we met Jesus or dirt we’ve acquired now, the truth is we all have dirt and we will have dirt in our lives until the day we leave this earth. To say that we won’t is a fairy tale because that would mean we’re perfect and only Jesus accomplished that. We have this dirt in our lives and as we begin to follow Christ in this new life, this dirt is what seems to hold us back and hinder us. Sometimes we feel like there is no way we’ll ever get away from this dirt. Honestly, when I began following Christ at 22, the dirt seemed to be at an all time high and I struggled majorly with how to deal with it. What was happening was that Jesus had opened my eyes to see the dirt that I was surrounded by, to see all the areas of sin and wrongdoing in my life. Then I felt paralyzed sitting under the example of Jesus’ perfection and holiness, I kept reading about all of these larger than life faith heroes in the Bible and couldn’t understand how I couldn’t be more like them. I struggled in a big way during that time of my life and I let the dirt rule me for a very long time, until, Jesus began to teach me the truth of the Gospel and what this life with Him looks like.
The truth is, we have dirt, and we’ll never be able to live up to the expectations of those great Bible heroes. For one, we’re not those people, we’re me and you, uniquely created for a specific purpose by God. So we don’t have to be those people, we can learn so much from their faithful examples but we are exactly who God created us to be and exactly who God wants us to be. Also, the truth is that this dirt may seem really nasty and painful at times but as James says, “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” I know, that sounds crazy right?!?!? Trials are bad, why we would we get excited about that???
Well, these trials we face and all this dirt we have in our lives, it’s apart of the process of faith we are undergoing with the Lord. All we can see at times is a big pile of dirt right?? Nothing exciting about that. But Jesus says; “hold on now!” We can consider trials a joy because that’s where our faith is produced, that is the times where we can see God growing us and saving us daily through the good news of the Gospel. It’s easy to get caught up in all the dirt and pain that comes from tough times, or different struggles we face. But James also mentions how these trials and sufferings we are going through now is like that process of gem mining. God is taking us, all of us, the dirt and the hidden gold, and through the good news of the gospel, God is allowing us to go through times that shake us, and push us into the purifying blood of Christ. It’s in this process of trials that we see this life with Christ is a process. A process of daily getting saved by His blood, His the more we go through pain, the more we are opened up to see that we don’t have what it takes, the more our need grows for the cleansing blood of Jesus to wash our sins and dirt away.
And going through this process of being shaken, washed and what feels like nothing good could possibly ever come from it. God opens us up to see that all of these trials and things we’ve went through that has just looked like a big pile of dirt. He was up to a much bigger work. It’s in these situations of struggle that God is stretching us and growing us, taking us out of our depth and into His loving grace. We feel like life is throwing us, shaking us and kicking us in the face but then after awhile, it’s obvious to see that during the midst of the trial God was showing us how to depend on Him. How to depend and live solely on the good news, God is slowly but surely washing more and more of that dirt away and showing us the gold and diamonds that He has produced through it. God is sifting away the dirt of our fleshly sin and desires and creating us to be new creations looking more and more like His Son, Jesus, daily.
All I have to say is that if all you see is dirt, don’t be discouraged. If all you feel is pain, that’s actually a good thing! This process of following Christ isn’t easy, and it’s not something that happens quickly or immediately. It’s a daily grind, a daily need and seeking out of the Gospel and being saved/cleansed by the blood of Christ. What seems like a trial and a big pile of dirt, God is breaking you down of all the fleshly, sinful, nasty stuff that is no good for you. And through this, God is growing you, preparing you and molding you to be made more into the image of His Son, more into the cleaner new version of you that He will use in mighty ways. I know it doesn’t seem like that and you may be wondering where the gold and rubies are but just keep pressing in, keep seeking Him during this time! In His time you will see all the sand God is getting rid of and all of the pure gold that He is putting in you! Just trust the process and trust the God of the process!!! He is gem mining all over your life right now, you may not see it, but if you feel like you are being shaken up, God is sifting out the sand and pulling up the gold!!!! Continue to trust in the good news of this process, the Gospel that washes us clean and saves us daily from all the dirt in our lives! I’m not saying God is making you perfect, but He’s making you mature and complete in your faith! He is making you golder and less dirty today than you were yesterday!!! Trust the process!!!!