My family and I love the beach. The sights, sounds, and smell of the ocean is absolutely mesmerizing. We make the trip as often as possible. It always brings a change of perspective for me when I reach the ocean and am reminded of how BIG our God truly is. I will confess that every time I walk the beaches, I will look for “treasures”. And if I find an oyster shell, I will immediately open it to find the hidden treasure. Well, I have never found a pearl, but I am still willing to look.
One of the most beautiful and valuable things in this world is a thriving, new church plant. When I think about and hear of the IMPACT that these churches can have upon communities, it becomes the sound of a cheering section to me and the church my family and I planted 5 years ago. You may have heard it said (and repeated many times over) that not everyone is build to plant a church. The statistics of church plants show that while the idea of church planting is popular, the vast majority of those who begin the process do not complete what they set out to do. Obviously, there are many different reasons for this. Many times circumstance can be beyond a pastor’s control, even unforeseen circumstances. I have been privy to the personal stories of a few fellow church planters and the the heartbreak that can develop.
One of the most costly treasures of the beach is the pearl. If you know anything about how pearls are made, you will understand it is based on the process of protection against an irritant (usually a grain of sand). The oyster will secrete calcium to coat the irritant that even though it may be embedded inside, the coating will make the discomfort tolerable. There are times, occasionally, when an oyster will spit out the irritant. For whatever reason, the oyster rejects the thing that creates discomfort, not desiring to do the work required to create the pearl. The oyster essentially is spitting pearls out of its mouth; the treasure never to be developed.
The symbolism between physical and spiritual realms is obvious to those who are looking for it. This is true in the contrast of oysters making pearls and men and women of God planting churches (or the journey every follower of Christ experiences). Pastors and their families will be presented with irritants throughout the process. When these irritants enter our lives, we have a simple choice to make. We can choose to cover the irritant in prayer and seeking wisdom on how best to “deal” with it (or them) OR we can simply get rid of it (or them). But taking the easy path to get rid of it is wasting an opportunity for a treasure to be created.
Pearls are not created overnight; neither are successful church plants or certain victories experienced in our lives.. They take time and energy and devotion that can sometimes create discomfort in our lives. In fact, the longer the time the oyster deals with the irritant, the bigger and more costly the pearl.
(Matthew 13:45-46) …pearl of great price…
If you are currently a church planter, or if you are considering planting a church, let me encourage you to not allow the enemy to use situations and people to irritate you to the point that you spit out the pearl that is intended to provide strength, wisdom and provision for you. If you are called to plant a church, you are also EQUIPPED by God to plant the church!
If you are a follower of Christ facing circumstances that seem overwhelming or out of your control, GOOD! Don’t discredit the difficulties you face and simply avoid them. Seek every way possible to reconcile, trust, be persistent, believe, mend or restore.
T.F. Tenney once said, “There is nothing like trouble to bring you to your true identity.” Don’t let this trouble (irritant) lead you to the wrong identity. Make the effort to at least try to find the treasure in your troubles.
No matter the irritants you may face, don’t simply discard them. Cover them in prayer, wise counsel, and the filter of the Word of God. And watch how God creates a treasure from the trouble.