Saturday, February 02, 2008

Pearls of Great Price

I visited some friends in Guernsey not long ago who had been out fishing for ormers. Now these shell-fish, molluscs, are related to the abilones that are found in Australia and South Africa. In Guernsey hardy individuals wade out into freezing sea-water at low tide six times a year to turn huge rocks over and search for these highly prized gastronomic delicacies. My wife and I really love them. Once the shell is removed, you beat them with a hammer on a stone pavement so as to make them softer to eat, and then bake them slowly in the oven with butter, tomatoes, onions and herbs. Yum yum! Well our friends had taken pity on us because I am not well enough to go ormering by myself and they had kept six of these fabulous molluscs back for us to enjoy. Amazingly, when they were cleaning them and removing the shells, a beautiful pearl fell out of one them, which they eagerly held up for me to admire. They planned to mount this very rare example on silver and give it to their tiny grand-daughter to keep.

Pearls are mentioned in the Bible. Twelve gates to the city and each one of them made from a pearl. That’s what John saw in the Revelation 21:21 as he gazed by faith and by special invitation of the Lord at the eternal city that is to come. In other words, symbolically every entrance into the life of the heavenly city will be through a pearl. Now what is a pearl? Well basically it is a healed wound. When oysters are bred for pearls, a wound is made in the shell, and then a tiny grain of sand inserted. The irritant settles into the wound and then all the healing resources of this remarkable creature set to work and surround the intruder. As the layers build up over time, the grain of sand becomes a pearl, an object of exquisite beauty and value. Yet no wound, no pearl!

So God does not waste our wounds and neither should we. My irritants can become his pearls.