A couple weeks ago, a friend and I walked from North Beach to Glass Beach, a.k.a. Sea Glass Beach. We found several pieces of sea glass in shades of blue, orange, brown, green, and white. They were smooth, the edges all softened by the giant, ocean rock tumbler.
Today I was on another beach, out at Discovery Bay. I found several pieces of glass, but they haven’t yet earned the name “sea glass” because they are still in process. Their edges are
still rough, and they have sharp points still. They haven’t had their shine rubbed off yet either. The ocean had deposited them on the shore, but when the tide comes back in, it will pick them up and give them another round of tumbling. I wonder how many times this happens before a piece of sea glass can truly be called sea glass. The pieces I saw at Discovery Bay still looked like what they had come from: beer bottles, a pottery bowl, a soda bottle. Too much is left of their original characteristics to be called sea glass. They are just pieces of beer bottles, pieces of a pottery bowl, pieces of a soda bottle. In their condition right now, no one really wants them. Somehow, once they become sea glass, they become beautiful.
I picked up a piece of a broken soda bottle. It was part of the bottom of the bottle. I could still read the words, “TO BE REFILLED.” But it can’t be refilled. It’s original use is not an option any longer. It’s only hope now is to be turned into sea glass. Oh, and that can’t happen, at least not at this stage of the bottle-piece’s life, because I took it from the beach. Something about those words on it made me keep it. TO BE REFILLED. I was at the beach for my own refilling.
I took some time away from my normal life so I could focus on God and let him refill me afresh with his Spirit. I needed rest. I needed to be away from my house and its demands so I could focus on God. And now I was standing on this beach, holding a piece of broken bottle, reading those words, TO BE REFILLED. I realized the words were more for me than for the bottle. They didn’t help the bottle at all, but I could be refilled.
I thought about how God takes us through a sort-of rock tumbler of life, to smooth our rough edges and knock off our sharp parts. The rock tumbler is not fun. It feels awful. And sometimes scary. It feels like a storm. It is a storm. We feel like there is nothing to hang on to, and there isn’t. But the truth is, God has us in his hands the entire time. He is tumbling us, making us into something smooth and soft in his hands. Something that won’t hurt others with our roughness.
We feel like the storm won’t end, but suddenly it’s over. We realize we are different than we were before the storm, before the tumbling. We see ourselves differently; we have more grace and understanding for others. Some edges have been smoothed.
But we aren’t finished. This is just a break between tumblings. A time to rest and refill before the next storm, because none of us are finished yet. The process is life-long. After our rest, there will be another storm. Another time to rest and refill, and then another storm. What we can do is trust God through the process, trust that it’s for our best that he allows the storms. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing…Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:2—4; 1:12)
When we are finished, or I should say, when God is finished with his work on us, we won’t look a whole lot like we did when he first took us. In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells us, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) I am so thankful for that! I am glad I’m not the same as I was when he first rescued me. I have a long way to go, I know, but I’m not as sharp and jagged as I was. I hurt people less often. It still happens, though. When I do hurt people, I hurt God. I picture jagged glass in Jesus’ hand, cutting him like the nails that wounded him so he could take my sin. I don’t want to be like that; I want to be smooth in my Master’s hands.
– Tammy Bailey
Tammy Bailey serves at Hillcrest Church with her husband, Rick. Although her kids are grown, she is still learning and growing in her relationship with Jesus. She is an awed child of God.