Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matthew 13:44-52
I have lived a good deal of my life by the ocean. It is majestic and powerful, as well as rough and messy, full of scary sea life and slimy vegetation. Pearls are found in the ugliest of shells, surrounded by slimy oysters, who created the gem to deal with the terrible irritation of sand. An ugly exterior, a slimy interior and an irritable habit provide for us the most elegant of prizes. And so it is with our life of faith.
Jesus reminds them that our life of faith is embedded in a rough-shelled world, surrounded by the slimy challenges and reactive irritations.And yet God creates beauty and possibility even in the midst of all of that. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we can know the realm of God within our own messy world and will cling to the incredible gifts and blessings we have been given.
Today I ask God to help me see the pearls within the slime. May we all be faithful in the irritating and ugly times, knowing God is always in the midst of them and bringing us renewed strength to arrive at our reward.