Things aren't always what they seem to be. Take, for example, geodes.
Who knew that a particular rock could be more than a rock in Arizona (the site of our recent travels) ... or anywhere else for that matter? It's just a rock, right? Sure it is, until it is cracked open, that is. Then wow! what "glory" inside! Yes, a geode is not just any rock. It's a rock that contains a shining treasure of crystals. However, the treasure remains hidden until it is cracked open with a hammer or a fall or a landslide or some kind of trauma. The rock will just stay ordinary and unattractive and obscure and unrevealing to those who have not witnessed the breaking or who are not willing to let the rock be broken.
No two geodes are alike. In fact, to the uneducated among us, it is even hard to tell a geode from an ordinary rock. Some are large, others are small. Some are lighter than others and some "rattle." Some are from "exotic" places like Morroco and Uruguay, others are from Illinois and Arizona and places stateside.
And no two geodes have been broken in the same way or with the same effect. Each cracked open, broken apart geode is unique, showing forth its unique glory in a unique way. "Most geodes contain clear quartz crystals, while others have purple amethyst crystals. Still others can have agate, chalcedony, or jasper banding or crystals such as calcite, dolomite, celestite, etc." (Wikipedia). Some have been sawn in two, others have been cracked by hammering, still others have been smashed by the force of a greater blow.
For example, our two grandsons "opened" the geodes we brought them from our recent trip to Arizona. Kaden had an oblong rock that ended up being quite easy to break open. His was from Arizona, and the crystals inside were in the shape of tiny beaded balls. However, they basically stayed attached to the rock pieces. Eli's rock, however, was round and harder, very difficult to break open. His was from Morocco (according to an attached label) and his larger crystal beads "spilled out of" the rock. Both of the rocks were geodes, but different shapes, sizes, "hardness," geographic origin, and they each manifested quartz crystals in unique ways when they were broken open.
I can't help but compare these differences in geodes with our human lives on this earth, so unique in location, appearance, stresses, and spiritual calling and gifting.
One of the delights of being in the family of God is that we run into each other everywhere! No geographic location is beyond God and His people. I love the verse in Revelation 7:9-10 NLT
I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.
They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.
And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
And how ordinary and varied we are in our appearance and personality and human talent. Not many of us are among the "beautiful people" or the rich and powerful (although there are "a few" who have been called to that). Again, the Scriptures say it well. I love Paul's evaluation in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
A significant difference among us believers is also a beautiful one: our gifting and calling in the body of Christ and our manifestation of our Lord to the world around us. some of us teach, write, preach from a platform. But most of us serve in very hidden ways ... reaching out to needs and hurting people around us. My favorite passage about the various callings we each have is 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT. Notice the two general categories ... so the variations are innumerable.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.
Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.
Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
And we all suffer in various ways while on this earth. I think of my darling friend who has MS and still shines forth the joyful life of Christ. I think of my suffering friend who has been in a difficult marriage for 50 years and is now showing forth the unconditionally loving Christ in that husband's dying days. Another dear sister in the Lord is going through surgery for the third or fourth time, manifesting the courageous, long-suffering life of her Savior in the process.
And I could go on. We each have the daily trials of everyday life and the sudden crises that take our breath away. And then we have the enduring situations that don't ever seem to quit.
Our "geode-soul" gets banged up, cracked, broken open and even "pulverized" at times. But He is being revealed as we cling to Him in it all even when we ourselves don't see it. Others do. And that's the point, isn't it? That HE would be GLORIFIED in and through our human "geode-like" life.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 NLT
You can't always tell one from another
And it's best not to judge a book by it tattered cover
I have found when I tried or looked deeper inside
What appears unadorned might be wondrously formed
You can't always tell but sometimes you just know
'Round here we throw geodes in our gardens
They're as common as the rain or corn silk in July
Unpretentious browns and grays the stain of Indiana clay,
They're what's left of shallow seas glacial rock and mystery,
And inside their shines a crystal bright as promise
All these things that we call familiar,
Are just miracles clothed in the commonplace
You'll see it if you try in the next stranger's eyes,
God walks around in muddy boots, sometimes rags and that's the truth,