6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It was a few days ago that I pushed the large empty shopping cart into Costco, clutching my shopping list for the spaghetti supper fundraiser.
As I passed a large, illuminated display case, I stopped to gaze for a moment at things that were not on my list.
The case held shelves filled with graceful figurines; ladies in colourful ballgowns, skirts forever frozen in mid swirl--heads tilted just so. Their hands daintily held fans, or bouquets, or gathered skirts above tiny ankles.
It was the jewelery, though, that captured my attention and I admired the colours of the gem stones and the design of the various pieces.
"What is an "olive onyx?" someone asked.
She was short woman and stockily built, with short, reddish blond hair and she was addressing me. We must have looked like children at a toy store window at Christmas-time.
I looked at the necklace made of pale green gems with admiration but I did not know what an olive onyx was.
I learned that she had a little more knowledge of gem stones than I did. Onyx, she told me, is a rough looking, cloudy white stone. She described the polishing process that results in the perfect gems such as those in the case. According to the woman, under pressure, beryl turns into emerald, a precious stone.
I had to get on with my shopping, I had lingered long enough--so I bid my new friend goodbye.
As I walked away, I thought of the word I'd used recently to describe one of our team to someone. "She's a gem," I had said--and I meant that she is a precious person--of high quality in character.
I had just been reminded of the polishing (rough parts buffed off) and the pressure, that results in brilliant gems and I thought of the verse in Philippians that speaks of God's continuing work in us--the forming of the image of Christ. The forming of that image cannot take place without much abrasion and pressure.
Amy Carmichael's Edges of His Ways for September 18th said:
"Love will perfect that which it begins. It will not forsake the work of its own hands."
And in today's reading, speaking of difficult, prickly people:
"Flow through me, Patience of God, flow over the roughness of that soul even as the sea flows over rough rocks."
Lord, your work in my life is hard at times, but I welcome the hand of my Maker and Saviour for it is the hand of love. I want your beauty to shine through me with ever greater purity.