Monday, April 7, 2014

Diamonds in the Rough

"precious stones for beauty"
2 Chronicles 3:6

So we went on a field trip the other day.  Drove out to Carlsbad.  Not to see the beautiful-but-overpriced flower fields, and not to visit the fairly-expensive-but-worth-it Legoland theme park.  No, we were visiting the free-even-though-the-items-in-this-building-cost-millions Gemological Institute of America.

The GIA was founded in the early 1930s by Robert Shipley, a jeweler who realized that there were no standards used to evaluate or grade gems.  They educate, train and research in 14 countries around the world.  Their headquarters is in Carlsbad.

It was very interesting.  The kids got to do some of the things that gemologists do ~ performing scratch tests to figure out where different gems fall on the Mohs hardness scale... closely examining gems under a microscope and a jeweler's loupe, looking for inclusions (such as an air bubble, or an insect in amber)... and using a penlight to identify phenomena (an example of which is the rainbow colors you see when light shines on an opal).

It is truly remarkable the variety of beautiful and valuable minerals in and on the earth.  It was a lovely and educational day, to be sure.

But you know I learned about more than just gems.  I was reminded about something special about God, too.  And here's how that happened...

We were taught that almost all gems are minerals, but very few minerals qualify as gems.  To be a gem, a mineral must be three things: rare, durable, and beautiful.  The "beautiful" caught my interest.  What exactly is beautiful?  Beautiful as defined by whom?  And what about the fact that the standard of beauty changes through the years?

At this point in the presentation, the speaker showed a slide that had a beautifully polished diamond...

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... alongside several rough diamonds of slightly different colors...

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And the instructor asked the kids how many of them saw beauty in the unpolished diamonds.  Most of them raised their hands.  I didn't raise my hand, but I certainly agreed with them.  And then the instructor agreed with them, too ~ but with a reason that gave me pause.  She said, "How many of you think that one or two of those unpolished diamonds are beautiful?  Me too.  I think they're beautiful because they are going to become this -->" and she pointed to the polished diamond.

I disagreed with her there.  I think the unpolished diamonds ~ and other gems ~ are beautiful, interesting, appealing... just as they are.  Sure, the polished diamond does things with light and color that are unlike anything else, but they don't have a patent on beauty, ya know?

But what I loved about her remark was that it made me think of God.  Of how He sees us.  There can be no better description of us than "diamond in the rough".  Beautiful to Him, just as we are... and yet He knows what we are becoming, and how the closer we grow to Him, the more of His light we reflect.  The gemologist who was teaching us saw the beauty in what that diamond would become.  The beauty of potential.  Just as we are unpolished gems, in the hand of the Master.

~ "He has made everything beautiful in its time" ~
Ecclesiastes 3:11

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