Summary: Trials and troubles affect us all. Sometimes however, we don’t understand why God permits difficulty in the lives of His children. Using rock tumbling as a backdrop, this message seeks to illustrate God’s purpose in problems.
TUMBLING STONES and TRANSFORMING SAINTS
Have you ever noticed the difference between rocks found in a protected cove by the ocean and those found lying on the shore, unprotected from the violence of crashing waves? Even to a casual observer, the difference is plain to see. Rocks found inside the protected cove will be noticeably sharp and rough. In essence, these rocks have been left untouched; they have not experienced the anger and ravages of the ocean’s raging waves and currents, for the waters inside the cove remain relatively tranquil.
On the other hand, rocks found on unprotected shores of the ocean are characteristically smooth, rounded, and uniform. “What’s the difference,” you ask? The difference, simply stated, is friction. These rocks have been tossed about by crashing waves upon the shoreline. They have endured countless storms, during which the abrasive sands of the sea washed over them time and time again. Relentlessly, the sands gnawed away at the rock’s hard exterior, eventually grinding away every sharp or rough surface.
But even more significant is the fact that the same process that produces smoothness eventually produces shine. The same rocks, once rough and dull in appearance, now seem to smile happily back at the sun, as its light is reflected off their smooth, shiny surfaces. Who would have thought that such uniformity and beauty could result from such a violent and tumultuous process? Be aware however, that this delightful result did not happen in one stormy night. In actuality, this process took hundreds of years of storms, which the rocks were powerless to stop; hundreds of years of pounding by the relentless advance of the ocean’s waves; and hundreds of years of enduring the microscopic abrasiveness of the sands of the sea. The important word here is process.
With these thoughts in mind, I wish to share some spiritual insights given me by the Lord via a hobby taken up after receiving a rock tumbler for Christmas. As mentioned above, the oceans, streams, and rivers are the original rock tumblers. Modern-day motorized tumblers simply artificially mimic the process of nature. The major difference between the two systems is that artificial tumbling is more concentrated and uniform in its action upon the rocks being processed. For as much as six weeks, the rocks are tumbled twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with only minimal breaks in between, to check the progress of the rocks and to change grit in the tumbler for the next stage of the process. So what nature does in hundreds of years, the rock tumbling machine condenses into about six weeks. However, the spiritual applications to the life of a child of God are what I wish to convey today. Let me share some of these with you.
The Selection Process
Before one begins the tumbling process, naturally, rocks must be selected. These stones are usually chosen simply because the one making the selection finds something of interest in them, such as shape, color, size, or markings. All of the stones in their original state are rough and crude in texture and dull in appearance. Only the chooser knows the value of and reason for his choice. Not everyone sees even the same object alike.
But this is just what the heavenly Father has done with His saints. The Scripture says the following:
According as he (God) hath chosen us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated (predetermined) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph.1: 4-6—KJV).
God chose us with a predetermined goal in mind: that we become living, visible reflections of His person (“holy and without blame before him in love”); examples of his grace, bringing Him praise and glory.
In addition to that, God desired to both accept us, and make us acceptable (Eph.1: 6). Like the one who is choosing stones for tumbling, God chooses us just as we are. But He is not content to leave us that way. He has a plan and a goal in mind. In His omniscience, He has already beheld the beauty of the end result.
The Steps Of The Process
There are basically five steps involved in rock tumbling: (1) Selection and washing; (2) Coarse grit tumbling and washing; (3) Medium grit tumbling and washing; (4) Pre-polish tumbling and washing; and (5) Polish tumbling and washing. The initial step involves removing the obvious dirt and grit from the stones, by washing them. Anything from their old environment will contaminate and mar the end results. It has to be washed away. In the spiritual realm, we could liken this to the initial washing of regeneration, or salvation. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse man’s contamination of sin. The Bible speaks of the necessity of this initial washing as follows: