My mother loves opals. Ever since she was a young woman she has thought they were the most beautiful stone in the world. I know they say diamonds are a girls best friend – but for her, it’s always been opals.
A few years ago, after my grandmother passed away my parents went to Australia for a trip of a lifetime. They had many amazing adventures like sleeping in a cave hotel, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, boating in croc infested waters, and sand sledding down giant dunes. Every day was a new adventure! And of course, while they were there, they looked at opals.
Australia is a land full of many treasures, one of which is opals. Hidden away under the earth in rocky, dusty caves are the most beautiful stones. Stones that look like fire, stones that look like the sea. Shimmering, sparkling, crackling, show stopping stones. But the thing is, you have to dig to find them. And when you find them, they’re not what they seem.
To find an opal, an Australian miner must very carefully descend into a mining shaft with a pick and a shovel. They would then pick away, looking for any signs of opal dirt. Once they find something promising, they would continue digging into the area, creating a channel like cavern to find any clusters of opals to be discovered. Once an opal is discovered, they put away the pick and shovel and use a small handpick or a screwdriver to carefully dig around the opal to remove it so as not to break any part of the delicate stones.
Once the stones are mined, they are rough and have crusted layers of dirt caked around them that must be carefully cleaned away. They have to be washed and agitated, and often it can’t be done even by the most skillful hands. (If you’re interested, you can watch this video to see a sample of how it’s done.)
I know my knowledge of opals is limited, but I can only imagine that from start to finish the process of mining for opals takes hard work, and extreme dedication. But the end result is absolutely spectacular.
Sometimes when I think about my limited knowledge of the scriptures, it brings me back to the thought of mining for opals. Hidden, under the earth waiting to be discovered. Just like the unseen treasures in Australia, we need to be dedicated to searching the word for its treasure and truth.
People know where to mine silver and how to refine gold. They know where to dig iron from the earth and how to smelt copper from rock.
They know how to shine light in the darkness and explore the farthest regions of the earth as they search in the dark for ore. They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives. They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth. People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains. They cut tunnels in the rocks and uncover precious stones. They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures. But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth and sees everything under the heavens. He decided how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall. He made the laws for the rain and laid out a path for the lightning. Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it. He set it in place and examined it thoroughly. And this is what he says to all humanity: “The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.” Job 28:1-4,9-13,21,23-28
I love this passage in Job. As he says this, he’s sitting in a garbage heap covered in painful sores, scratching them with a piece of broken pottery. His children have died, he’s been stripped of his health and his wealth, and he’s listening to his friends tell him that this all happened because of his sin and his lack of trust in God. Job has been on a journey. And he’s not done yet. Like any normal person, he’s had his ups and downs – but how many of us in the midst of suffering can offer up the foundation of wisdom?
Job is saying that if God puts treasures in the earth that can’t be found without digging for them, like those beautiful opals, then wouldn’t He also put wisdom and understanding where it needs to be dug up and discovered? To gain real understanding of the truth, we need to dig deep.
Last year was a difficult year for many people. Being thrown into lockdown was hard and as the pandemic stretched across the world it brought a lot of change. One of the biggest changes for me was a disruption to my personal Bible study. Now, I know you’ll probably think that’s a bit silly because with all that time at home there’s really no excuse to not be in the Word. But here’s the thing – my kids not being in school was a major disruption to their routine and mine.
It took a full year to figure out the best time to study. Very quickly, my husband decided to stay late at work so he could quietly study there. But was I able to find some peace and quiet at home? (Insert one million laughing emojis here). What about uninterrupted time? Absolutely not. I tried waiting until my kids went to bed, late in the evening – but I’d be so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I tried in the afternoon while they were occupied with other tasks, but the phone would ring or someone would come to the door. It was the easiest time to be interrupted. I tried waking up early, but I was tired and would fall back to sleep or someone would wake up early – and it didn’t seem to work either.
I was in a season where quick Bible reading became the new Bible study, and I feel like I missed so much. I don’t know about you, but I have to take more than a second look at something before I understand it. So despite trying so many times, when all I had was a hot uninterrupted minute to read, it felt flat. I’m grateful to have had time to read anything at all, but some days I felt like I was just reading so I could say that I did. It felt like those moments of study when everything falls fresh on your heart and mind would never come again.
I missed in depth Bible study. “Mining” the scriptures for hidden treasures is the only way to find wisdom and understanding. I missed that time to gain knowledge and grow in spirit and in truth. And if I’m honest, even now it’s not perfectly ideal with what I have going on. But it was important enough to me that I had to figure something out.
Finding hidden gems is exciting and enriching, but hiding them away us important as well. Just like you’d secure precious jewelry and gems so as not to be stolen, we can also secure the Word of God in our hearts. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
This is as much encouragement for me as anyone else. It’s easy to get sidetracked and interrupted, and in all honesty, to give up on trying to study. But it’s so important in living a life that glorifies God. How can we know God if we don’t learn about Him?
Like mining for opals, true gems have yet to be discovered. If God takes pleasure in blanketing precious jewels in the folds of the earth, how much more does He long for us to blanket His precious words in our hearts? ❤️
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:16-17
P.S. If you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to study the Bible, here’s a small place to start.