A Pearl Factory

“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

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.  The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

  • Revelation 21:21

“Ever make a mental list of things that irritate you?  Here are a few I’ve got on mine.
“Traffic jams, long lines, misplaced keys, untrained pets, stuck zippers, cold food, interruptions, late planes, tight clothes, squeaking doors, incompetence, flat tires

“Makes me think of a saying I saw one time on a small wooden plaque.  ‘I am planning to have a nervous breakdown.  I have earned it. … I deserve it. … I have worked hard for it. … and nobody’s going to keep me from having it!’

“When it comes to irritations, I’ve found that it helps if I remember that I am not in charge of my day … God is.  And while I’m sure He wants me to use my time wisely, He is more concerned with the development of character and the cultivation of the qualities that make me Christlike within.  One of His preferred methods of training is through adjustments to irritations.
“A perfect illustration?  The oyster and its pearl.
“Pearls are the products of irritation.  This irritation occurs when the shell of the oyster is invaded by an alien substance – like a grain of sand. …
“How many pearls have you made this week?”

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch

Before we get started, as for the photo. This is my wife’s pearl necklace from the pearl market in Beijing. She wanted alternating black and white pearls to signify our older son’s dark complexion and dark hair and our younger son’s light complexion and blonde hair (now light brown). The ladies that made it for me must have thought I was crazy. I added a white pearl, black pearl ring to the mix, but the ladies thought that she would like a matching bracelet. And I must not have negotiated well. They threw in an invisible pearl necklace.

As for the Swindoll quote: I could add a few to Rev. Swindoll’s list that may not have existed when this was written about 30 years ago – like computer and television service calls over the phone and the waiting line when trying to get a representative to help you.

May I tell you an irritating tale of woe (irritation) that led up to the point where I read the quoted Swindoll devotion?

Yesterday, my wife wanted to go to the wholesale warehouse pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  As usual, it cost us a lot more than the prescription cost.  We bought a variety of small things, some recipe ingredients, a couple of snacks, and a new bottle of multi vitamins (Mature Multi) for the immature old guy who lives with my wife (me).

That’s when I said something that totally messed up nearly two whole days of my life.  I told my wife that I had actually read the cable bill instead of just paying it, and we were paying for something that we did not receive.  Big mistake – trying to fix the problem when our televisions were working.

I found out that I had to return home and remove all their television box equipment and return, adding an hour of travel time (seven miles, but heavy traffic).  Then I returned home with two boxes, one for each television.  The one in the living room worked perfectly, even with voice control, but the one in the bedroom did not work at all.  I went through the diagnostics in the setup manual – no good.  I went on line to a secondary diagnostics instruction page – no good.  I went on the chat line and I was redirected off the chat line as my problem was something that the chat line did not handle – no good.  I called the 800 number and talked to a computer for an hour, never finding a real person.  The computer declared, “I have fixed it.” And then hung up on me – no good.  The next day, I repeat all the previous day’s mistakes, then we hopped in the car and went back to the service center seven miles away.  We got a new box and a new modem, since it worked but out of date.  We returned home.  The modem had glitches, but the 20 minute setup took a couple of hours – finally success for something that had already worked before.  Then, I went back to the television in the bedroom, since my wife had already missed several of her “wake-up” shows by now.  We had taken a third trip to the store to get a second box that did not work either – no good.

When I called the 800 number, yet again, the computer asked, “Did not my fixing work?”  I said, “No.”  The computer then transferred me to a wonderful young lady, a real person (I even asked her if she was a real person.  She laughed and probably thought I was crazy, but she confirmed that she was real!!!!), who had my television working, over the phone, within 20 minutes.  I told her she was a “gem.”  I told the cable company’s survey when they called that she was a “gem.”  And I will say it again, “She is a gem.”  Maybe the only gem on the necklace of the past 48 hours that did not turn into a pearl.  Wow!  I made a bunch, and I was very gracious with everyone, even the computer.  I have learned that the computer does not respond well when you shout “Representative” thus I softly talked to the computer, through gritted teeth.

Yes, my irritations probably produced an entire necklace of pearls.  Then I read the devotion, having been too busy to read it first thing this morning – no good, on my part this time.  I told my wife what the devotion was about and she laughed, saying that God was speaking to me.  Thus, why not use it for a post since I have not been writing anything for a couple of days?  (I was ahead on my writing – God knowing that I needed to be ahead, because He knew what was coming.)

So, I searched for verses using the word ‘pearl’ in the NIV and there were not many.  I wanted the pearl of great price story, and I knew I would get the Revelation quote above, but not until I read the Revelation quote above, yet again, did the connection between large pearls and irritations come to mind.

Excuse my twisted sense of humor and some possibly poor theology (just hang with the illustration), but what came to mind was, “If God made pearls as big as gates to the city, what kind of irritation must God have had to produce twelve of those monsters, each as big as a city gate?!?!?!”

As soon as I asked the question, I got the answer.

Our sin.

God loves us and His patience is infinite, and some of us, me included, test the boundaries of God’s infinite love at times.

So, the next time you are put on hold and then told 10-15 times that your call is very important, you might be making a tiny pearl for yourself.  But when you lose your cool while waiting, God just might be making more pearls for a new extension to Heaven, just for the gates to it.

He loves us that much – to put up with us.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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