I have always admired the guy in the parable of the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46). He had foresight, the courage to risk, and he was commended for gaining return on the master's investment. I have always hoped that if I were in that kind of situation I would too. But I don't think I have ever been in that position. About that time I got a wakeup flash!
I was reading a book titled A Strand of Pearls; it is the testimonies of seven different women and their struggles in life and how the Lord brought them through that trouble...rather than zapping them out of it! At the beginning the editor explained how a pearl is the result of irritation--an irritation that will not go away. Therefore the oyster covers it over with softness. It takes many years of covering the irritant with softness to create a pearl that is precious.
The Holy Spirit often speaks with a still small voice, but that voice also carries a ring of authority to it. It cut right into my thought stream as I was reading and I knew I needed to stop and think about how pearls are formed and relate that to living with MS. The disease is a major irritant! It does not seem to be going away. Is The Lord asking me to live with this irritant and cover it with softness? Time for a "Selah" moment!
Hmmm, I flash back to His statement to me that He trusts me with this disease. Is He trusting me to produce a great ROI (return on investment) on His investment in me? Am I to cover this irritation of MS with softness and in so doing create something of inestimatable preciousness to Him? That's a different way to look at it!
Pearls are made quietly, without fanfare and I believe they are made in relative darkness. But when the oyster is brought to the surface, its life ended, its body gracing someone's dinner plate, the pearl is discovered. That's an ugly scenario--becoming food. However, Jesus said His body was bread... Paul urges all Christians to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). Okay, I've already asked Him to be my Lord, so the sacrifice thing goes with it. Paul went on in the following verse to say that sacrifice is only our "reasonable service"--it is the least we can do after what Jesus did for us! Perhaps the Lord is saying in this that I can leverage my sacrifice. In the process of being a living sacrifice I can produce a pearl if I so choose. I can transform the enemy's irritant. Oh, yeah! I like that idea. As my thoughts wandered to how to come up with the softness, I could feel Holy Spirit tug my thoughts in the direction of the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith (Gal. 5:22). I really like the idea of gaining a great ROI!
I admit that I have never thought of a chronic disease as the irritation catalyst for producing something of great worth! Or any worth actually! I also admit that I do not see in the spirit realm (except on occasion) and I cannot see what I am worth to God, but that's pretty awesome to have Him drop these thoughts into my mind.
I hope that all of you who read this will look again at the irritant in your life through this same lense. Can you see how great the potential is for spiritual return on your investment? I would encourage you to use all of His grace that you can lay hold of to cover your irritant with the softness of the fruits of the Spirit!