Some objects that we sometimes take for granted have an unlikely origin. Metals, gems and other minerals that are used to enhance our society and our way of life, come from the ground. Encased in rock or buried out of sight, they have spent incredible amounts of time in darkness, waiting to be discovered and to be freed from the ground. Once we are able to observe them in the light, we are able to marvel at the beauty and the design of what we have uncovered.
I have always had an interest in geology. After ending my seafaring career in 1988, I relocated from Sydney to Hobart and commenced a degree in science with the aim of a career change to geology. After a year of study, I became the recipient of a generous geology scholarship prize but I was also offered a teaching role at the Australian Maritime College. After much thought, I decided to discontinue my geology studies move into the Maritime Education field. Despite this choice, I have never lost my interest in geology. The large variety of rocks and minerals that have been created by geological processes are fascinating – as are the process that lead to their formation. These processes involve immense temperatures and pressures associated with molten rock below the earth’s crust (magma) as well as geothermal processes (superheated mineral rich water) which produce the metals and minerals we use in everyday industry and for personal use such as jewellery.
Alluvial tin was discovered in the north east of Tasmania in the 1870’s in the vicinity of the Ringarooma River, Derby and Mount Cameron area. Tin can still be found today in the river systems of the north east using a shovel and sieves. Tin (the three larger black stones in the following picture) is very useful as an indicator for people who like to stand knee-deep in cold water fossicking for minerals such as sapphire (blue), zircon (red/brown), alexandrite (green) and topaz (clear).
Because each of these minerals are quite dense, they tend to accumulate at the bottom of clefts in the river bed. I found the stones pictured a public fossicking lease in the Weld River near Moorina Golf Course not too far from Derby in Tasmania. Some I have had cut and are now set in a ring and a pair of earrings. However, even in their uncut and unpolished state, these minerals are beautiful. They serve as a reminder of God’s love of symmetry at the atomic level and the unchanging physical laws He set in place that formed our universe.
God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
As minerals crystallise, they grow in a predictable manner which is based on their chemical composition, physical laws and their formation environment. Some of these crystal forms are described by classification terms such as: Isometric, orthorhombic, hexagonal, trigonal and monoclinic. Each system determines the shape of the crystalline form of a mineral. The colours that we see when they are exposed to light are determined by the presence of various chemicals within the crystal matrix.
MINERALS IN MINISTRY
We could well wonder what minerals have to do with our lives as followers of Christ. Based on the Old Covenant requirements for priestly garments, it is apparent that God saw the beauty and usefulness of some of the minerals that He had designed. God decreed that twelve minerals were used to adorn the ephod that was worn on the chest of the priests of Israel.
You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle shall be the first row; and the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold filigree. There shall be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes.
Each of these minerals were not only beautiful to look at, they were also precious, as were the twelve tribes of Israel to God. This people group was chosen by God to produce the linage to Jesus, who was the culmination of God’s plan for redemption for the human race.
HOW ARE PEOPLE LIKE MINERALS?
We cannot appreciate the beauty or usefulness of minerals until they become exposed to light. Once minerals are released from darkness, light reflects off, or diffuses through their structure. This enables us to see them as they were designed and allows us to appreciate them through our God-given sense of beauty. Like minerals, we all grow into individual forms. Every one of us has a unique value that is loved and cherished by our Creator.
And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
We all grow in response to the environments we are placed in. Like minerals, we are shaped when we are experiencing times of darkness or significant pressure. That pressure can come from circumstances linked our poor choices or from those outside of our control. However, all is not lost. Beautiful things like diamonds form under pressure. Like minerals, we are also changed by exposure to light. While physical light brings out the beauty of precious stones, the Light of the World, Jesus brings beauty to our lives, showing us and the world that we are created in His image, and that we are loved and forgiven for our flaws when we turn to Him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Second Corinthians 5:17-19
So, the next time you take a look at the gem that is set in your favourite item of jewellery, remember that this mineral was most likely formed in a place of darkness in a place where pressures and temperatures were immense. Yet despite these circumstances, something truly beautiful and incredibly resilient was created. It is abundantly clear from the words of Jesus that the pressures and darkness associated with sin do not determine our final form. Just as limestone transforms to marble or carbon can be turned into a resilient and beautiful mineral like diamond, Jesus can be the transformational light that enters into our being. Because of His redemptive work on the cross, and through the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is illuminating and purifying us so that we can reflect His light within the world – allowing others to see the light of salvation and the beauty that it brings to our lives, so that we can become ambassadors for Christ to the world.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Second Corinthians 5:18-20
LET’S REVEAL SOME BEAUTY
From my fossicking experience, we don’t always have to dig very deeply to free something that has been beautifully created and bring it into the light. God can, and will dig as deeply as required to reach people who may feel buried in dark circumstances and who are longing for Him to bring the light associated with His love. Sometimes He uses His followers and equips us with a spiritual a shovel and a sieve.
So, let’s start digging and see some more beauty revealed!
Your executive pastor,
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