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by Debra L. McKeen Sparks
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The Master picked up the small black coal. It was lying among the rubble in the roadway. He carefully examined it and noticed a particular shape and texture in it. It was rough; there was no doubt of that. It was indeed ugly – black even. And yet, it was special enough to grab His heart. He placed it carefully in the velvet bag that He carried and started home.

Once at home and settled into His stool at His workbench, He opened the velvet bag and took out the stone. Surrounding the area where he sat, one could see that there were many kinds of stones – some on shelves and others displayed on tables and workbenches which lined the room. Some were quite beautiful, sparkly, and shining and others that, like the small chunk of black coal, were rather ugly and scarred.

Concentrating intently, the Master picked up the small coal and placed it carefully in the palm of his own scarred left hand. And then, just as carefully, He placed the palm of his right hand over it, and it was in this prayer-like fashion that He held it. For many days He held it, constantly applying pressure; firm, constant pressure. And as the pressure was applied, the coal conformed. It conformed not only to the shape of the scars in His hands, but into a clearer, more watery-colored stone. He continued to touch and press and handle the stone until, over the course of time, it was ready. It was ready for the hand of the Artist. And at that time, and only then, He brought it forth and placed it carefully in front of Him on the workbench.

There were many flecks of residue still left in the stone. These would have to be cut away. Other gem cutters would have tossed the stone away as useless long before this. However this Master took up His tools and began the long, tedious, and patient process of cutting the dross away and creating a thing of splendor out of a stone of pressed coal.

The cutting tools came forth unto the stone, and the cutting away began. The cutting must be done, He knew, in order to bring to life the fire that was buried beneath. It was for this reason, that many of the facets were not “precision cut” as with instruments, but rather, they were “precisely” cut, as by a Master Artist. One who could, with His heart, see past the surface of the stone to the beauty that lay within. Here and there one could see, through a very, very strong glass, that a few minute flecks of coal were left behind. These flecks represented things that had resisted the Master’s pressure to the point of remaining within the gem. They were scars indeed – but, washed with many tears, and much forgiveness, even they were beautiful – creating such beauty of character in the heart of the stone, making it so unique and unusual that it spoke even more perfectly of the redeeming love of a Master.

Then, it was finished; a chunk of black ugly coal had transformed into a beautiful gem stone – the hardest of gems. No gem-cutter would have ever believed that a stone of such brilliance, intensity, luminosity and radiant fire could have emerged from such a piece of marred rock. All other gemologists would have tossed the rock aside – useless, even unyielding.

The Master looked beneath the surface of the coal and saw a thing of beauty and intense brilliance and began to create it in His image. Beside the other stones in the workshop, it seemed that this stone shone forth with more fire than any other. The stone was not considered flawless when examined through the gemologists’ glass, but the Master had seen it as flawless – perfect in His eyes and had created it in His own perfect image and filled it with His fire. It was now fit for the Bridegroom to offer to his Bride.

. . . On June 25, 1988, I became a bride to "the man of my dreams", a beautiful man who loved me and loved the Lover of our Souls. He had gifted me some 18 months prior with a stone of this beauty, set in a circlet of gold. My diamond is a 38-point, 1920’s mine-cut diamond and it is indeed brilliant. However, deep in its heart lie two flecks of black carbon which were not cut out. Yet when you look at my diamond you will see pouring out of it brilliant radiance and colors of every imagination. It is one of the most beautiful stones I have ever seen and that many gemologists have ever seen and because it was hand-cut, it holds great value. But more than that, it is a constant reminder and a lesson to me about the love of a Redeemer who can create beauty out of even the most flawed material. Who can take lives which seemed so marred by circumstances and so dirty and as He presses them into His scarred hands and pours His love and acceptance and redemption into them, they can come forth full of brilliance and power and praise and glory.

. . . For we are God's masterpiece; He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

He does indeed… give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

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Member Comments
Member Date
Howard L. Pierce 08 Sep 2004
Debbie, this points out so clearly that regardless of how flawed WE may become, His Grace is greater and is sufficient to perform its perfecting work. Thanks for publishing this. It gives hope. Howard
nikki page 28 Mar 2004
This was great! I enjoyed reading it. The content and point was really good and i loved the way your writing flowed.


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