Have you ever opened a clam shell and found a pearl inside? I haven’t, but I imagine it is quite the experience as you open this rather ugly-looking shell in hopes that something beautiful and valuable is nestled inside.
Did you know that pearls are formed as “a defense mechanism against a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside the shell, or an attack from outside.” (thank you, Wikipedia) Isn’t that what faith in God’s truth is: a defense mechanism against a potentially threatening irritant or attack (Satan)? Faith is called the “shield” because it blocks and defends against the blows the enemy dishes that are meant to take us out (Ephesians 6).
Well-meaning christians sometimes take the time to offer their shields when ours are looking a little tattered and dented. I am afraid, though, that so much of the things we christians say to each other (christianese) are like clam shells. The beauty and the prizes are being handed out left and right, but unless you are willing to pry the thing open to find the hidden gem, what you have been given is useless and even kinda ugly.
I metaphorically opened a clam shell this week and found a treasure far more valuable than any pearl. I had a clam shell handed to me this week that really set me free regarding how to handle unmet desires. Initially, the truth that was shared was a little irritating and felt like the “christian thing” to say until God opened my eyes to see the pearl hidden inside.
I shared with a dear, Jesus-following woman about my desire for a child. I gave her insight into the depth of this desire.
After sharing, she asked me, “Do you trust the Father?”
Not wanting to answer too quickly (and trying to decide in my mind if I really did), I answered, “Yes, I do.” And I meant it will all my heart. So I sat and waited, hoping that she would say the thing that finally helped me cross this mountain to where I would no longer struggle.
“Then you need to stop taking it back,” she said. She was met with a slightly puzzled and disappointed look. She proceeded, “You need to take it to Jesus and leave it there.”
That last line sounded a little too familiar, a little too “christian,” so the immature part of me wanted to roll my eyes a little bit. Yeah, yeah. I know. I have to leave it at the foot of the cross. I thought. It was a clam shell I had heard and been offered countless times but never was able to open and see what was hidden deep within.
I knew that the woman sitting in front of me has the Holy Spirit living in her and I knew God was trying to get a message through, so I exercised self-control and instead of writing the whole interaction off as “christianese,” I asked a question to clarify.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She went on to explain that she believed I trusted God, but that I kept taking my desire back from him. My thoughts: Huh? I have? How?
You see, since beginning a journey with Jesus, I have heard things like, “You have to leave it at the foot of the cross.” Or “Just take it to Jesus.” “It” referring to whatever is keeping you from perfect happiness – whether it be a desire or a sin or whatever.
That (leave it at Jesus’s feet) sounds nice and freeing, but how in the world is it done? I feel like my whole life (even before becoming a Jesus-follower) I have taken things to God. Most people are quite good at taking things to God. We talk to him about and vent about all kinds of things. It is the leaving-it-there part that is more challenging and takes more trust.
This week, for the first time, I have an idea of what it looks like to “leave it there” and “not take it back.”
I see it this way. Whatever the issue, if you can say honestly that you trust God with that issue, then you know how to leave it at Jesus’ feet.
I can honestly say that I trust God for how he plans to build my family. I trust him. I have desires and a way that I think the story could be written well, but I deeply believe that God is a lot smarter than me (a huge understatement), and he knows, far better than I, what is best for my life (Isaiah 55).
Since I trust him, I have no problem dropping the little package called “Desire for a Child” at his feet. I can even walk away and leave it there for a little while.
The problem comes when the enemy comes along after me and picks up that package and follows me. He tries to offer it to me again. I might see a pregnant woman in the store or a tiny newborn baby. I might hang out with a pregnant friend or receive the news that someone else is pregnant. Each time one of these things happens, that little package is offered back to me, and up until the last couple weeks, I have taken it right back. I have been duped. I did not even realize that I was taking the package back, that I was revoking my trust in God each time.
Because here’s the thing, no matter what the situation may be, we have some sort of emotion that is tied to that thing that causes us to freely grab the package back. However, having emotion regarding the package we laid at Jesus’s feet does not necessarily mean that we have taken the package back. Having the emotion can be our snare OR it can serve as the clue that reminds us to reaffirm who should have possession of that package.
Now, when I find myself once again sad about wanting another child, I tell God that I am sad. I tell him in that very moment that it sucks, that it is hard. But then I reaffirm my trust in Him. I tell him, “I am sad. I want another child. But I trust you,” and I move on. I move on, not carrying the little package. I refuse to accept the package back.
Have no doubt, the enemy will try again. He will carry that package with him, offering it at every turn, in hopes that one day I will take it back again. I pray I never do.
I am pretty sure I have given the advice, “Leave it at Jesus’s feet,” at least a few times in my life. I have given the advice because I truly believe it is the only thing that can truly bring freedom. I just never really opened that clam shell fully until now.
I believe clam shells are handed out too often, without the giver ever taking the time to personally inspect what is inside. As a result, some christians are seen as uncaring, hypocritical, or shallow. I do not think these christians are any of those things. I think they have just missed out on seeing and experiencing the treasure for themselves. Their heart is in the right place. They believe they are handing out something valuable, but they just do not really know the depth of the value…yet.
What are the clam shells that you have handed out lately? Have you inspected the pearl? Can you testify that it has value? Are you able to help others open the shell so they can find the true treasure, too?
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).
Every treasure of the Kingdom is more valuable than anything this world can offer. I think I need to go “pearl” hunting…