Gem of lump of coal?

“You’re a gem!” I told my colleague recently. He responded that he was merely a piece of coal being transformed. Well, that response stopped me in my tracks. 

When folks do a good job, I do like giving positive feedback. At one time, I was known for giving “gold stars,” and if I didn’t say it, sometimes they would ask if the job was worthy of any gold stars. With the regular shifting of resources and reorganizations at the company, the gold stars fell out of use. I’m not sure why exactly I used the term gem this time, but I truly meant that the work provided was a shining example. I was so surprised by not only the humility of the response, but how deep of a meaning could be teased out of it. In some regards the amount of pressure from the volume of work that needs to get done could be one explanation of the analogy. Knowing that I used the term gem, the first thing that came to my mind was a diamond. From there I thought of one of my favorite songs, Diamonds from Hawk Nelson, a topic covered in a previous blog

My contemplation of that analogy continued, and I started thinking about the saints. We see saints as beings who are perfect, but they certainly were not so while on earth, at least not for their entire life. St. Augustine wrote a full book about his Confessions. While on earth, each of these carbon-based lifeforms, were slowly being transformed into diamonds shining brilliantly from the light of Jesus Christ. They faced adversity and hardship, poverty and disbelief of others for their vocation. Yet they walked with Jesus to do God’s will, keeping their focus on Him. Now we see them as God has always seen them: as perfect gems.  

It can be very difficult to see ourselves, especially our inner selves, as anything other than a dirty piece of coal, ready to be thrown into the fire. Yet God can see the diamonds we can become. He is calling us not to take the easy way out and escape the pressure, but to lean into Him and walk with Him through the difficult times. We may be dust, but we are beloved dust in His eyes! He does not want us to settle for the way we are now, He wants us to sparkle like the diamonds He knows us to be. While my human instinct wants me to flee from hardship, my spiritual soul asks me to rejoice in the difficulties of life since these are the tools God can use to transform me.

We are all called to be saints. We are also not yet saints. Let us not judge the coal-side of our lives too harshly, but rather look to God to lead us through the pressures of life so that when we reach heaven, we too can see the gems He has called us to be.   

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