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by Kristin Patterson
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Coal. We use it in some way, every day, even if we don't realise it. It is one of our main fuel sources and creates a good proportion of the electricity that we rely on.
It's not pretty, it's black, it's brittle, and, when you think about it, it's dead things. Everything else has "dissolved" away to leave a matrix of carbon molecules joined together to create this ugly, brittle, black stuff that we rely on so much.
What is truly amazing about coal is that if left in the right conditions, the right temperature and pressure, the likes of which is only found deep under the earth, can turn into something extremely beautiful and highly valued. Diamonds.

The temperature of the earth raises as you go closer to the core, likewise pressure increases to a point where it would be impossible for humans to survive. Within these exact conditions, that incidentally cannot be replicated fully in a lab, the carbon molecules are excited by the temperature and pushed towards each other by the pressure to create an extremely strong matrix that is one of the hardest substances that we know.

The diamond is now far different than its coal brothers. It amazes me that two things made of exactly the same molecules could be so very different.

Miners have to dig deep in order to find the veins of diamonds within the ground, even when they find them, they are finding the old ones. As more diamonds are formed, and with the movement of the earths crust, they are forced upwards, these are the ones that we find and use.

Once dug up they have to be separated from the rock that encases them, cleaned and then cut with a laser before we see the true beauty of the diamond.

It is the same way for us in life. We start of as coal, important, but rather unremarkable, a lot like everyone around us, part of this world.

We feel the tug of God on our life and we make the decision to follow him. We assume that it will be smooth sailing, after all God is good and He only wants the best for us. What we don't realise is that we need to chip away our old life before we can embrace the new.

Fortunately God is a master craftsman. He takes our lump of coal and heats it up just right, He adds a little pressure. We are feeling it now, things are changing in our lives, but sometimes it's hard. We feel the pressure, we are sweating with the heat. We have a choice at this point, trust in God that he knows what he is doing and He only has plans to see us reach our full beauty, or we can run, away from the pressure and the heat, back to our lives where we are important, but not so pretty.

We decide, thankfully, to put our trust in God, that He knows what he is doing. He takes us to the point where we think we can't take any more, and then it's over. The pressure and the heat are gone, we have made it through. We give praise to God, thankful that he has carried us through this trial, and then pray the prayer we all wish in that moment we hadn't prayed, "God use me".

We wait, expecting miracles at every turn, little do we know is that the miracle will be us. God hears our prayer, He turns us over and over in His hands, He knows that if He was to use us, we will need to be cleaned up a bit. He beings chipping away at the rock that surrounds us, exposing who we really are on the inside. He makes us vulnerable and open to Him as he removes all of the leftovers from our old lives. He teaches us to forgive, to let go, to seek Him in all things. It hurts, we struggle to hold on to our protective rock covering, we don't want to be hurt again. It's in this moment that He teaches us to truly trust in him, to let go of the past fully, and break away from our rock covering to step into our future.

We are finally free of the cage our old lives helped to create, but we are still far from perfect. The next time God takes us in His hands is to cut away those flawed parts. It still hurts, but we are learning to trust Him more and more. We can already see the huge changes that have happened. It is in these moments that God begins to chip away the things we didn't even realise were problems. He shows us, one thing at a time what He is removing and why.

Until we meet Him in Heaven we will remain in this phase. God cuts away the things that retract from our true beauty, those things that can hold us back. He knows that we aren't perfect just yet, we are only human after all, we will still make mistakes. Through our trust in Him He brings out our inner beauty, our diamond, others can now see us, and see God at work constantly in our lives.

Allow God to do His work. Become what he has intended you to be. Trust through the heat, through the pressure, trust Him as he breaks your shell, be vulnerable to Him. Listen and trust as he points out those areas that you need to work on. By doing this He creates a miracle in your life, He turns you from coal to diamond, precious in his eyes, valuable and usable.

Diamonds are valuable, precious. Everyone can see their beauty. A diamond can touch the lives of many and influence those around them.

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