Saturday, June 14, 2014

Diamonds in the Rough

When I was a child, I remember people referring to a “diamond in the rough” as a person with a loving heart, raw talent, and/or good common sense, yet lacking in proper etiquette, refined language, formal training and/or education. A classic example is Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower seller in the musical “My Fair Lady” (based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”), transformed by the careful tutelage of a phonetics professor into a regal, elegant lady.

When I was in the early years of my medical career, decades before being saved, I used to dream of being a real estate entrepreneur to supplement our income and as a way to early retirement. I used to listen to a motivational lecture by Earl Nightingale so many times that the cassette tape broke!

The true story Nightingale described was called “Acres of Diamonds,” about an African farmer who grumbled bitterly about the poor quality of the rocky, infertile soil on his farm. He had heard tales of others making a fortune in diamond mining, and hoped to do the same. So he sold his farm for a pittance, but far from striking it rich, he lived in miserable poverty, finally so desperate that he drowned himself in a river.

The new owner of his land one day spotted a flash of red and blue light coming from a rock at the bottom of the stream. This turned out to be the largest diamond ever discovered, and the farm became one of Africa’s most productive diamond mines. Had the first owner only taken the time to study the appearance of diamonds in the rough, he would have realized the fortune he already possessed. Instead, he plowed up diamonds in the rough and tossed them away, and he sold acres of diamonds he already owned to look for them elsewhere.

Nightingale’s point was not to overlook opportunities right where we are planted, even though they may be disguised as obstacles, or to mistake treasures for trash due to lack of study and preparation. He summarized it this way:

The thing about this story that has so profoundly affected millions of people is the idea that each of us is, at this very moment, standing in the middle of our own acres of diamonds. If we had only had the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore the work in which we’re now engaged, to explore ourselves, we would most likely find the riches we seek, whether they be financial or intangible or both.

I don’t know whether or not Nightingale was saved, for only God knows the heart (Psalm 44:21; Acts 15:8). But for those who are saved, the treasure we have within – the Holy Spirit – from the moment of salvation onward, is truly priceless (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5), yet with Him, all things are possible!  (Matthew 19:26)

But sadly, many who claim the Name of Christ trust in their own pitiful flesh or look to other people or circumstances to improve their situation, not realizing the power of Almighty God within, if only we yield to Him (Colossians 1:27). We may store up earthly treasures that we can’t take with us, while ignoring heavenly rewards that we could enjoy throughout eternity (Matthew 6:19-21).

Now that I am a born-again Christian, I wonder how many times we complain about trials and difficulties we must endure, not realizing that God allows our suffering to polish us into the image of His Son (Philippians 3:10). Other blessings of those trials are to strengthen our faith in and dependence on Him (2 Corinthians 12:9), and to give us compassion and experience to help others going through similar trials (Galatians 6:2,10). Yet we dismiss the burdens as trash and fail to realize that He turns them into treasure by working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

When we read our Bible, do we stub our toes on the rocky verses that convict us of our sin (Psalm 139:23-24; 2 Timothy 3:16), and toss them aside in anger?  Or do we see them as precious jewels that can enlighten us with His truth and illuminate our path to being more Christ-like? (Psalm 119:11,16, 18,72,105, 127)

The Bible speaks of believers being purified in the Refiner’s fire, like fine silver when the dross is burnt away (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2), or as soft clay being molded and reshaped in the Potter’s hand (Isaiah 29:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 18:4). Yet before we can become malleable as molten silver or wet clay, sometimes He must chip away the hard shell keeping us rigidly bound in our own ways. Once we place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), Christ frees us from all our sins by washing us in His shed blood (Matthew 26:28).

Often, though, we are still encumbered by the heavy weights that shackle us (Hebrews 12:1). These may include guilt over missed opportunities or past sins, even though God has forgotten our transgressions (Psalm 32:1; 85:2; 103:12), or bitterness and lack of forgiveness toward those who have wronged us (Matthew 6:12,14,15; 18:21,35).

Old habits from our unsaved lifestyle, such as drinking, smoking, or bad language, may prevent us from shining as brightly as we could otherwise (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:9; 1 John 2:10). Even activities that are not sinful, or even good works such as church service, may need to be chiseled away if they keep us from God’s best for us.

Praise God that if we allow Him, He takes us just as we are, with all our imperfections that detract from His glory, and like a master Jeweler skillfully cleaves us into a polished gem!

Jesus Himself was the ultimate Diamond in the rough, born and living in the most lowly of circumstances, and scorned for His unimpressive hometown (John 1:46) and simple parents (Mark 6:3), by worldly standards. His inner circle, Peter, John and James, caught a glimpse of His heavenly brilliance in His Transfiguration, but He quickly resumed His ordinary human form and asked them not to tell anyone until He had risen from the dead (Matthew 17:1-2,8,9).

When He died for us on the cross, He was so marred and disfigured that we could not even bear to look at Him (Isaiah 53:2-5). Yet without that ugly suffering He took on Himself for us, there could be no forgiveness of sins, no redemption, no eternal life (Isaiah 53:11-12). When we behold Him in all His glory, His radiance will outshine the most beautiful rainbow and all the precious gems we have ever seen or could imagine! (Revelation 4:3)

May we allow Him to polish us like a brilliant diamond, reflecting His light as shining jewels in His crown!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Denise said...

Good post.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise! God bless!

elizabeth said...

I'm happy to "meet" you via Scripture and a Snapshot!

Gospel Gurl said...

Laurie this was soul stirring. I think of all the countless souls in our midst that need Jesus and yet are looked at as too far gone. In reality...they are diamonds, God's creation in need of a Saviour! Thank you for putting such truth out there. Keep doing it until you no longer can! Stopping by from Weekend Brew.

jviola79 said...

I am stopping by from Still Saturday(except it is Sunday). Wonderful reminder that we are each still in the process of being changed. May we extend grace as we realize God is at work in each of our lives. Have a blessed Sunday!

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I fully agree here. A new believer is like a rough diamond found in the ground. But I thank the Lord that it is God himself who transform us into beautiful jewels. I, for one, had never seen a diamond transform itself without outside help, but I have seen diamonds in full submission to the workman, allowing him to do his work on them. So we should be the same, submitting ourselves to the workmanship of the Lord. Another great post.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Elizabeth, for your visit & comment! Happy to "meet" you too!

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Cathy, for your encouragement! God is no respecter of persons and can use the most "far gone" if they yield to Him -- look what He did with Saul of Tarsus! May we all keep spreading His light until He comes again!
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, jviola79, for your visit and sweet comment. Praise God for His transforming power, and may we yield to Him so that He can use us to work change for good in the lives of others!
May you have a blessed week in Him,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Frank! Just as we are helpless to save ourselves, we are helpless to transform ourselves into His image. Our progressive sanctification is possible only through the indwelling Holy Spirit, if we yield to Him. Thanks as always for sharing your insights and for your uplifting words of encouragement.
God bless,

Connie Arnold said...

This is a beautiful post, Laurie! Thank you for sharing the wisdom and insight.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Connie, for your very sweet comment!
Love in Him,

Ceil said...

Hi Laurie! What a story about the man and his diamond mine...all lost because he didn't see. It takes a new frame of mind to slow down and see the beauty in other people and things and yes, even our own land. I'm such a quick-mover sometimes, that I miss the beauty. And that's really sad.

Thank you for your wisdom today :)

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Ceil, that it is easy to keep so busy and move so quickly that we get distracted from His presence all around us. Thanks as always for your thoughtful coment.
Hope you're having a blessed week in Him!

Nadwrażliwiec said...

Diamonds are used to cut the glass. For me it is the picture, how God can use us - but for His ministry He need polished diamonds.
Greetings from sunny Cracow :)

Donald Fishgrab said...

I think about how many are like the farmer, always chasing something else, and never realizing what God has already provided.

Laurie Collett said...

That is true, Zim -- diamonds are the world's hardest known substance -- only diamonds can cut other diamonds. It is like the Bible verse, "Iron sharpens iron." Thanks for your comment, and greetings to you! Enjoy the sunny weather!

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Donald -- many are blind to God's gifts, and seek the world's trash instead of His treasure.
God bless,

Imperfectly_Leah_Too said...

I love this, I'm bookmarking this to review, Thank you.

Kelli Woodford said...

So nice to have you with us at Unforced Rhythms, Laurie! Thank you for this post!

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you so much! I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post.
May you have a wonderful weekend in Him!

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Kelli, for your sweet comment & for hosting!
God bless,

Wanda said...

May we all be more open and observant to little diamond fields around us. Thanks for sharing with The Friday Five Fellowship Laurie. Have a wonderful weekend.!

Crafts a la Mode said...

Laurie, thanks so much for the 'teaching'. PINNED. Your friend, Linda at Crafts a la Mode

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Kelli, for your lovely comment & for hosting! God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Wanda -- He has left blessings and opportunities to discover all around us! Thanks for your comment & for hosting, and may you have a blessed week in Him!

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Linda, for the pin, sweet comment, & hosting!
God bless,

Unknown said...

Laurie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and also being challenged by being content right where I am.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Judith! I am blessed to hear that you enjoyed the post!
Love in Christ,