When I was little, my parents bought me a rock tumbler for Christmas. It came with different jewelry settings and stones to mount in them. But before you mounted the stones, you had to polish them.
I liked this idea of creating my own finished jewelry. Excited to get started, I dumped some of the polish into the drum with a few of the stones. I turned it on, and the drum started to rotate. Loudly.
I wondered how long I’d have to endure the noise.
As I read through the directions, I remember being very disappointed by how long it would take to polish the rocks. (I admit I don’t remember this detail, but the good reviewers at Amazon have informed me that you have to tumble the rocks for 30 days.)
No wonder I was bummed! I recall giving up the tumbling process very early on and opting to mount my settings with semi-polished stones. PRETTY!
I haven’t polished any rocks since those weeks after Christmas, but I’ve recently realized that my desire for the high-gloss is still woefully disproportionate to my dedication to achieving it.
Not too long ago, my pastor made a passing reference to a passage in 1 Thessalonians. It’s been on my mind ever since. One verse says:
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
– 1 Thess 5:14
Now, I’m not meticulous about removing streaks from my appliances or buffing out the scratches in my car. I’ve never considered myself remotely concerned with ‘shine.’
Until I read that verse.
Idleness. Timidity. Weakness.
Seems like there’s a lot to this Church thing that just isn’t so shiny.
And I don’t like that.
I’ve been reading the books and the blogs and the magazine articles. Everyone has something to say about how the Church can be more effective, minister to more people, grow more disciples. It’s easy for me to get caught up in it. My heart soars at the vision of the shiny Church that forms in my mind. I want that!
But idleness? Timidity? Weakness?
Where’s the shine in that? Isn’t the Church supposed to be productive and bold and strong?
Isn’t the Church supposed to be shiny?
And just as I sit down to type these words, that lesson I learned all those years ago comes rushing back to my mind:
Rough stones don’t shine without polish.
And polishing requires commitment.
Oh, Lord, do you realize how hard it is to warn? How exhausting it is to encourage? I’m the weakest person I know, and you want me to help? And be patient? With EVERYONE? I don’t know if I’m cut out for polishing. But, oh, how I love your Church to shine. So set my heart on warning and encouraging and helping with all the patience your Spirit will put in me. Because a half-polished Church isn’t good enough for you. And I don’t want to be the girl who’s too lazy to work for the shine.
And I’ll say it now because I don’t want to pretend: I am one of those rough stones, and you have polished faithfully for as long as I’ve known you – so many rough edges.
Make me a polisher too.
I will polish.
For as long as it takes.