Ernest Robinson - Diamonds - McCordsville, Indiana - August 28, 1980

The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 3:17, “'And they shall be mine,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'In that day when I make up My jewels, and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.'”


When I was preparing for this meeting, I had been preparing to tell a little of my testimony – tell a little about the time when I was struggling regarding going into this work.  I’m so glad now that I finally changed my subject, especially after our brother Murray was telling us of his so graciously.  I only wish with all my heart that he would have spoken a little longer!


Before there can be any meaning at all in our lives, there are three things which are absolutely essential, and if you don’t have those three things, life has no real meaning at all.  The first is an absolute faith that God does have His purpose in our life; the second is knowing what that purpose is, and the third is the assurance that His purpose is being fulfilled in your life. You can try and dart in any direction that you like, but apart from having these three things settled, be sure that there is no way that your life can have real meaning without these things.  You cannot have any definite direction, and as far as death is concerned, it can only be misery and destruction.  Most people have shut these out of their thoughts, but you are going to face it and it is going to be real, and it’s up to you!  We were reading, “'…that day,' saith the Lord, 'When I make up My jewels.'”  Today God is busy looking for those jewels and He is busy polishing them, and this is what we would like to speak about a little this afternoon:  how God is going about finding these jewels and how He is going about cutting and polished them.


The last time I was on a home visit to South Africa, I had the privilege of going through a diamond mine and it was immensely interesting.  But what made it so interesting to me was that afterward I realized how much of what I had seen there was a picture of what God is doing – looking for gems in the earth - and so, I’ll take time to tell you just briefly what we saw there.


First of all, they bring out that rock from the depths of the earth - very hard, blue rock -   and that rock has to be crushed – crushed to gravel.  After that rock is crushed, any diamond present in there might be set free.  It takes an unbelievable amount of tons and tons of rock that has to be crushed to get one diamond.  When that diamond is in there, mixed with the gravel, it is not sparkling; in fact, it looks so much like that gravel itself that even an expert can’t tell it.  So, can you imagine how they would ever find it?   There is an interesting way: they use the most surprising and interesting property of the diamond and that is that a diamond cannot get wet.  You can put the diamond in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and leave it there for a thousand years and when it comes out, it is perfectly dry.  Water doesn’t stay on it at all.  That is the method they use. They put this gravel on a long conveyor belt and they keep washing water over it at all times to make sure that the gravel is sopping wet, soaking wet.  At the end of this belt, there is a place, at an angle, covered with a special kind of grease.  All the wet gravel just rolls over and falls off, but because the diamonds are dry, they stick to the plate.  That is how they do it.  It was mentioned that it would be an almost impossible task because there is such a tremendous amount of gravel before you find a diamond.  Quite often, even in Korea, I have had people virtually mock us, especially religious people, ministering in the religious world, and others when they found out how we go out preaching.  “Oh, if this is supposed to be the Truth, if this is really the Way of God, why don’t you go out and advertise it – who even knows about this?  Get out and advertise and let everybody know.  How are people going to get to know about it?”


There is one thing I am thankful for, and that is, that the way of God has been devised that diamonds can be found in the most accurate and most effective way in the whole world.  There is nothing in the whole world that can touch it, or come even near to it, and I’ll explain why.  It’s amazing and absolutely perfectly effective.  If there’s a diamond somewhere, you can be quite sure that it will be found.  You may remember in the last chapter of I Kings you read about Ahab going to battle and he disguised himself.  In fact, he let another man there put on his change of raiment so that nobody would guess that he was the king.  He did not want an arrow shot at him.  But you know what happened that day?  We read that a man pulled a bow at a venture (marginal reading:  “in his simplicity, he just pulled the bow”).  I suppose he was just hoping that it might hit somebody of the enemy – and you know what happened?  In his simplicity, he did that, but God had already decided that Ahab’s last day had come.  God had decided, and so when that man pulled the bow in simplicity, God himself took over that arrow and directed it.  Can you think of anything more deadly?  There is absolutely no chance of a miss.  God himself directed that arrow and that was the end of King Ahab!  Now, that is how the gospel works – it’s so quiet that nobody in the world knows about it; but some of the greatest miracles that are happening – no less are these miracles than the miracles you read about in the Bible – right under your eyes, but God has done it so quietly and so amazingly that most people in the world, and most of our friends, even, don’t know a thing about what’s going on.


There are a few examples in the Bible — for instance, Cornelius; there he was, a seeking soul, and there somewhere by the seaside was God’s servant.  God saw a seeking soul and He knew where His servant was, and He showed him a vision.  Cornelius was directed exactly to where he could find the servant of God.  Nobody else knew about it; there was no newspaper advertisement necessary, no television advertisement, but God let him know in whose home he would be by the seaside, and that the man’s name was Simon, a tanner.  There’s no way he could miss!  You see, this is the way it works — when God sees an honest soul, God Himself directs and brings that person in contact with His servants. We have an example of the Ethiopian eunuch.  There he was in the desert, riding along in a chariot.  How can he hear the gospel there?  God saw that man’s heart; he was riding on, but God sent him Philip right there to that chariot in the desert!  Just absolute – it doesn’t matter where he is, but he’s right beside you. He would meet God’s servant.  It’s dead accurate!


I might tell you about a little experience which I had.  It’s just for a little example, and I’m quite sure you, every one of you, could tell me some stories that are even more astounding. But in Korea one time in the city of Taejon, I met a young student.  She was a girl going to school, and just coming to gospel meetings.  The workers in Taejon at that time were having English meetings, and this is what she wanted to learn; she wanted to learn some English.  She came to the meetings long enough — just a school girl — long enough that she could feel this is the Truth.  But she wasn’t willing; she was more interested in her studies and getting on in the world.  Soon after that, she ended up in Seoul, the capital city and there she went to the university.  But how I happened to meet her down there:  I was there for a little while and I had met this girl — it was many years later — she was a young woman now.  She was sitting in a tearoom in Seoul with some of her friends, and they got talking about religion.  This girl said, “You know, there was a time that I came in contact with what I know is God’s true way, and I’m just hoping that someday I’ll come in contact with these people again.  I don’t know how it will be possible, but I surely hope I’ll be able to meet them again.”  She got to the state now that she was needy and she was telling these girls, “I’ll tell you, I promise, if I ever meet them, I’ll bring you in contact with them.”


Well, it happened that day I was in Seoul.  At the time I was going to the Post Office, like I did every day, and was waiting for the bus.  After I got on the bus, I suddenly realized I got onto the wrong bus, and I thought, "Well!  Am I going out of my mind?  I’ve been doing this every day and there was not a single reason why I should get on that bus.I mean, normally I could almost do it with my eyes closed, so used to it I was.  And all at once I thought, "Well, what is the matter?  Whatever did I get on this bus for?And I thought, "Well, to get off and wait for the next bus, that’s a good bit of a wait.Anyway, because this bus had gone quite a long way, I’d have to walk a long way to the Post Office, but it would not do me any harm to have a walk, so I just stayed on the bus.  I got off the bus where it would be the least distance to walk to the Post Office, and as I got off the bus, I bumped into this girl as she came out of the restaurant.  How does it feel?  Just telling these girls, "If I ever meet these people again, I’ll sure bring you into contact with them."  They had separated and they had gone one way and just as she turned to go the other way, here I got off the bus and we bumped into each other! Well now, in a city of over ten million people, and just that day, without any good reason at all, I had to get on that bus.  That girl is rejoicing in the Truth today.  As I said, you could probably tell me many more stories, and in eternity when we sit around the Lord’s Table, there will be many, many wonderful stories to tell, and there’s going to be a lot of time to hear them, and it’s going to be interesting. But it’s all going to amount to the same thing:  they’re all going to tell you again that when there is an honest soul, God Himself arranges the contact and the people in this world know nothing about it.


Well, now, what about the Communist countries, the countries where it is impossible for God’s servants to go?  Remember the story of Ruth?  Here she was in a country amongst people that were virtually cursed by God.  There was no possibility for her of hearing the Gospel in that land of Moab, but you know, the eyes of God are running to and fro over the earth and He saw one of these people.  There was a reason for it.  They had come sorely to the disfavor of God, but still His eyes are running to and fro and amongst all those people, His eyes settled on that one young woman, Ruth.  Oh, there’s a diamond!  We have to get her out of there!  Remember that parable about the lost coin?  The woman lit the lamp.  Well, this coin wasn’t anywhere that it could be seen under the lamp.  This light did not get to where the coin was.  The coin must have been under the bed or somewhere like that and so the next thing she did was get out a broom and sweep it out to where she could see it, where it would be under the light.  That’s what God did with Ruth.  There was no light in the land where she was.  And you know, I’m so thankful that God has a broom and it’s got a long handle and it can reach to any dark corner of the earth.  And God said, “We’ve got to get her out,” and so He got out His broom!  Sweep her out of there; bring her to where the light is.  It was arranged that that family, because of the famine, would go in, and God Himself arranged it that one of the sons would fall in love with Ruth; it was not coincidence. And finally we were hearing about the privilege that she had afterwards to have this great part in God’s family.


You know about that country called Angola, West Africa.  I remember when I started out in the work there were some workers who were studying Portuguese in our country with the hope of going in there with the Gospel. It has never been possible, but God saw that there were some diamonds there, and He knew in their generation they would have no hope at all of hearing the Gospel in their land, so the Lord got out that broom with a long handle and it was a similar thing — He allowed a famine in that country and a lot of people had to move to the south to what is now called Namibia.  Just after they moved down there — and you’d be surprised how many of those people that came down that responded to the gospel and virtually became the backbone of the work in South West Africa, now known as Namibia.  A lot of people have passed on but some of that generation are still there.  I know nearly all of those wonderful, wonderful people!  And exactly the same thing happened in Korea.  God knew!  We were hearing here one evening about that iron curtain. It’s a cruel curtain, thousands of families separated, and God knew that those people would not, in their generation, have an opportunity to hear the Gospel.  So, once again, He got out His broom, and before that iron curtain fell, so many came out from North Korea; thousands and thousands came down from North Korea, and it’s surprising how many of them have accepted the gospel and how many of them are now in the work.  God works in wonderful ways!


When I was watching that process of sorting the diamonds, I noticed that tremendous pressure was crushing that rock.  I said to the man there, “Just supposing you got a nice big diamond in there, wouldn’t it be too bad if that got crushed?”  He smiled and said, “Don’t you worry; the diamond never gets crushed.  The only thing that never happens (it doesn’t matter even if it is a big one), it will not be crushed.  It will just separate from the rock that’s holding it; that’s all!”


In 1969, I was privileged to attend some conventions in Japan.  Before the conventions, I spent a week in the city of Hiroshima.  You remember that’s the city that was devastated in 1945 by the atom bomb.  Well, there I met a young lady exactly the same age as I was.  She was ten years old when that bomb fell.  Her testimony was very interesting.  She was a professing girl; her mother and sister were professing and they had a Sunday morning meeting in their home for many years.  Just last September, I was in that atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima again.  You just could not imagine the human suffering; it’s indescribable what it looked like!  Well, her father was killed and her mother seriously injured and she was terribly burned, but anyway, what I want to mention is this — at that time, there was hardly a home without somebody dead. Someone in the family, and sometimes most of the family, were dead — all of them dead.  There was no food, nothing to make food with.  There was absolutely nothing but terrible agony and misery.  A lot of people, when they saw it, just committed suicide.  Some of them went out of their minds in despair, and those that didn’t were just filled with bitterness.  They did not understand everything that was going on and they were just filled with bitterness against those cruel Americans.  But this girl, aged ten, was different; she was not crushed by what happened.  She tells us today what happened. She thought, “Here are children going to school and people going to the market and men going to their work and their building and so on, and just in a moment look what happened.”  And she thought to herself, “Well, is this all that people live for – something that can be destroyed in a moment like this?”  And she also thought, “Well, even if there is never another bomb on the city of Hiroshima, at the end of life is this what it’s all about?  What is it?”  And when the gospel came, she responded and it was through her that many of her relations were helped.  You know, what I am trying to say is:  if it’s a diamond, it’s not going to be crushed.  If it’s a diamond, there may be some shattering experiences, painful, but it won’t be crushed.  It won’t go to pieces if it is a diamond.  It will only be set free!  Like that girl, the ambitions, the thoughts, the hope for her future were no longer just centered on the things of time.  She was set free from that, able to lift up her eyes.


I mentioned that even the experts could not tell a diamond.  Surprising, isn’t it?  They cannot see it there.  God’s servants are like that.  We can tell you quite honestly we just don’t have the eyes that can tell a diamond.  Sometimes, I must admit, I’ve seen people coming to our meetings and they seemed like such fine looking folks, and when we speak to them, they seem such lovely people and you just feel that’s surely a diamond and they will respond to the gospel, but so often we are disappointed.  Then there are others that came in there and looked like nothing at all; we hardly bothered to greet them, and they are the ones who surprise us!  We just don’t have the eyes of God that we heard about this morning.  Samuel could not tell a diamond.  When he was sent to anoint the king from the sons of Jesse, he saw the oldest son who was such a fine looking boy, and he was sure that that must be him.  God said, “You are looking at the outward, but I look at the heart.  Don’t look at the outward; that’s not him at all.”  God had to show him which one it was.  I’m glad for that, and so are the servants of God.  We’re just as interested, and labour just as hard, to help everyone we meet; we just don’t know where the diamond is.


I mentioned that a diamond does not get wet, that’s why it can get found, that’s why it can be picked up; it doesn’t get wet. I’d like to mention about somebody else, somebody whom I knew in the country.  Her name was Peta.  She was a young lady, an exceptionally beautiful young woman and she just loved dancing. She’d go to a dance in the evening with a beautiful dress on and she just looked, I suppose, like a movie star.  She was never lonely because there were plenty of young men just waiting their chances to have a dance with her, and of course, some of the other young ladies would be jealous and so on.  But there was another side to this — we knew her mother.  Her mother would tell that every single time her daughter would go to a dance and come back, she wouldn’t even take off her dress; she would fling herself onto her bed and she would cry and cry and cry.  Her mother would go and say, “Peta, what’s the matter with you?”  And every time it would be the same thing — “Mother, is this all there is to live for?  For a little while it was interesting, but now I feel so empty, so miserable, and just feel so strange.  And mother, honestly, if there is nothing else to live for than this, I would rather die.”  We sing in that hymn, “The waters of this world have failed, and I am thirsty still.”  Do you know what it was?  She was a diamond!  “The waters of this world have failed, and I am thirsting still.”  This is something our brother was telling us about a little while ago when they were telling him the wonderful possibilities of making lots of money, and he used that expression that he didn’t partake.  No, he did not partake because he was a diamond, and a diamond does not get wet, does not get saturated with things like that.  That is why they are able to respond to the gospel. 


Did you ever wonder perhaps, some of you who are here and are still coming to the gospel meetings and who do not belong to the family of God — when you go out there and try to have a good time, and at parties everybody is so happy and singing and making noise and whatever they do, but you — you wonder and you are pretending that you are having a good time, too, of course.  You are laughing and joking with them, you are pretending, but inside you know very well that you’re not having a good time.  And sometimes you wonder, “Is something psychologically wrong with me?  Am I mentally disturbed?  Am I emotionally unbalanced?  Everybody can have a good time, why can’t I? Why do I always feel, even in a crowd, I’m lonely and feel like there is something wrong?  What is the matter with me?”  No, you are not unbalanced; you are just a diamond, and you can thank the Lord for that!  That is why you feel like that.


Now, at the end of the belt there is a greased plate, and that is what sorts them out.  We know that that is so much like the gospel.  We cannot tell, but this gospel truly sorts people out.  It’s amazing, but it really sorts them out!  Where we have been preaching the gospel, in Korea especially, we have a tremendous turn over.  At some of these places we get lots of people coming out to gospel meetings, but you know, most of them come once, twice, maybe a week and maybe a month, and then they pull away, just like that gravel.  We go through an awful lot before we find a diamond, but one thing which I must admit, and that is that I myself still do not understand, but we do know this — if there is a diamond, it will stick; it does not pull away.  And the reason why I can say this — I surely don’t understand it myself — is because you know sometimes we ourselves don’t always have a good time when speaking in a meeting.  Sometimes it’s just like chewing the brick; there just seems to be no response and your words are falling to the ground and I can hardly speak anything.  And there are times when, after the meeting, I’ve had to go past the building where we had the meeting the next day and I couldn’t even bear to look at the building — I just felt so ashamed of myself, so terrible; I had such a bad time there last night and I just feel awful and you feel sure that these people will not come again.  But here you come to the next day’s meeting, and lo and behold!  Here they are again!  You can hardly believe it. But do you know why that is?  The Lord Jesus said that “No man cometh unto Me except God draws him.”  Now, that is what it is — the Spirit of God drawing true souls.  If it’s a diamond — there are not many of them, they are few and far between — but if it is a diamond, it is the Spirit of God drawing; it’s not the eloquence of the preacher that draws them, not at all.  If it was an eloquent preacher, maybe they would come two or three times — but we have seen some of the finest work done by workers who really do not have the gift of the gab at all.  If they come just for the human entertainment, they would not come back to hear me.  I just have to say that I still know so little about it myself, but it is the Spirit of God that draws, and if it is a diamond, it won’t fall off; it will stick.  I asked the man that time, “Well, with this gravel rolling over like this and falling off, wouldn’t you be afraid a diamond might get lost in it?”  He said, “You may think that, but strangely enough, if it’s a diamond, it does not roll off; it sticks.”  That’s true.  This gospel is so simple, there is nothing outward, but we know one thing, if there is a diamond, it sticks! They told us that once in a while they stop all machinery and they scrape off that grease to see if there is a diamond in it.  And that is what happened here last night.  Sometimes everything comes to a stop and we test the meeting to see if there is a diamond.


Something surprised me at that diamond mine. The man was telling us, “You’d be surprised the volume of precious stones that just go down with the gravel to be thrown out on the dump — the rubies, emeralds, sapphires and anything you would like.”  He told us that there were precious stones in there but to try and separate them all and try to find them would cost too much.  In any case, we are only interested in the best.  All we want here are the diamonds, so the rest go out to the dump.  People are not allowed to go there, and it is well guarded.  Someday they may decide to go through it again, but at the present, they only took the diamonds. You know, there are many people in this world who are gems — they are gems indeed, but they are not diamonds.  Of some of the people whom I have met, I have said, “Surely they are gems; there is more in them than there is in me, and I can’t understand that the gospel does not appeal to them.  They are just such fine people; they are gems,” but you know, they are not diamonds.  There is a very interesting place in the Bible where we read about that rich young ruler who came to the Lord Jesus.  He kept the law from his youth up — that was no small thing, if you knew what keeping the law of the Old Testament from your youth meant.  In fact, it even says that the Lord Jesus loved him.  There was no doubt about it; he was a gem; he was no ordinary young man, he was a gem, but he was not a diamond.  The conditions, the commandment for a teacher of the law, which was God’s Word, he kept, but the conditions of the New Testament ministry crushed him.  That young man turned away sorrowful when Jesus put before him the conditions of the New Testament ministry — the gem was crushed by that, but not the diamond.


After we had seen all that, they took us to a very heavily guarded room in which we could see all the diamonds that were found in that mine the previous day.  It was a surprise; I could hardly believe it.  It was just a little bit in the bottom of a saucer!  I did not count how many, but I thought that we would see quite a pile of diamonds.  You know, that was a tremendous number of belts, but a whole factory of belts with this gravel running back and fort., but anyway, that’s all they found in that whole operation. I said to the man, “It seems that you had a bad day yesterday if that’s all you got.”  “No,” he said, “That’s average.”  Well someone said, “If that is all you could find” – you know we had seen the number of people working there and they all got good salaries and the cost of running that tremendous machinery would cost a great deal—“If that is all you get in a day, it does not pay; it is not worth it.”  Once again we saw a smile, and do you know what he said?  “If you knew the value — it might not look much to you — but if you knew the value of those diamonds in that saucer there, you would not think of asking a question like that!”  We are sometimes asked — you know, some workers live quite pathetic;  we have seen workers giving all their lives, one year, two years, three and more sometimes without finding a single person to respond — and sometimes we have been asked, “Now if that is all, is it worthwhile?”  But oh! Do you know, nobody really understands the worth of one soul in the eyes of God!  You would not dare to ask the question if you knew the worth of just one soul in the eyes of God!  And that is only the beginning! The diamond now is going to the workshop and they start cutting the different facets.  Those facets have to be cut and polished before it begins to sparkle.   When we make our choice, that’s not the end, that’s not everything now, but the beginning. Now God is bringing us into His workshop.  He begins to classify us. You can begin to read about it in Galatians 5:  love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, temperance, meekness, and those things are different facets that have to be cut on this diamond before it can reflect the glory of our Master.  And that’s another thing — I’ll just take a little while to mention about God’s workshop and some of the things about that.


In 1959, there was a very interesting movement in Japan.  It was Kronkons, and he had fallen in love with a commoner, just a common woman.  Her name was Nitchi.  He was determined he would not marry anyone else, so centuries of tradition were broken to allow him to marry her.  They could not just get married; she was first taken on a rigorous training program.  You see, she was a commoner; she knew nothing about the ways of the palace in Japan and these things are very, very important.  She had to learn how to eat, how to drink, how to sit and how to walk, how to hear and how to talk.  She had to learn everything right from the start, and then learn the ways of the palace; otherwise, she couldn’t fit in there.  She was willing for it.  They have been married a long time now since 1959.


That is exactly how it is when God finds a diamond.  He gets a true soul out of the world, and that is the beginning.  Remember, that is when we become the Bride of Christ.  It says in Revelation, “Heavenly Jerusalem descended like a bride prepared for her Bridegroom.”  There’s a lot of preparation before we can even be fit to be the Bride of Christ.  I don’t know if this has ever occurred to you at all. Some of us, even at this convention, when you look around, there are some pretty good looking people here, and I must say that I have thought of it sometimes.  It’s not really fair that not one of us have anything to say before we were born what we were going to look like, could not say, “I’m going to be handsome, or I’m going to be ugly.”  We had no choice in the matter.  It is not fair, because you know that those who look handsome, and the young ladies that look beautiful, get a lot of attention and a lot better treatment.  It’s one of the facts of life — people are so much kinder to them, and those that don’t look so good are just about to get tramped on, just get ignored.  That’s one of the facts of life; we know that.  Well, it is true none of us had any say, but what I would like to say is that every one of us has all the say to what we are going to look like in God’s eternal Kingdom forever — how beautiful we are going to be, we get all the say; we are deciding that right now. And do you know what that is?  Do you know who is going to be the most beautiful soul in eternity?  This is not guessing; I think you will agree with me — it is going to be the one who is the most closely conformed to the image of Christ.  That is what we have been singing; this is what God wants to do.  The closest conformed to the image of Christ is going to be the person who, in this lifetime, submitted most completely without any resistance so that God could just continue His work in their lives unhindered.  “Let Him now create unhindered.”  The one who just lets Him create unhindered — just dying to serve each day — so without any resistance God is able to continue working, that’s the one who is going to be the closest conformed to the image of Jesus.


When a little seed falls into the ground, from the moment when it falls into the ground, every single thing that happens in the environment is for the benefit of that seed.  Last night we saw the lightning.  While we were at school, we were told that lightning puts nitrogen into the rain, and that is very good for that growing seed.  The rain is good for it, the sunshine is good for it, the wind is good for it for strengthening the roots and for cross pollination.  It is getting the benefit of all that is happening in nature.  And we know that, from the time the seed of life is planted into our hearts, all things work for the good of that seed to grow. When we listen and accept the gospel and allow God to work a work in us, from that time, everything that happens in our life has meaning, every experience and every circumstance.  We know that we are as the apple of God’s eye.  There is nothing just coincidence; there’s nothing dull or drab about our life; you may think so but God has done everything that should be the background as needed for that work He is wanting to accomplish in our lives.  Your every day life, your job, your home life, whatever, it is still this background.  Against this background God is working and is using every experience, every circumstance, just like the workman used his tools, to work in the character of your souls, to form it.  Be temperate.


But there is the other side of it.  If there is no seed in the soil, it does not matter how the wind blows, it does not matter how the lightning strikes or the rain falls, or the sun shines, it remains a desert; it’s all burnt up.  And this is one of the saddest things you can see in life — and you see it so often — people in whose hearts there is no seed of life, nothing being done, nothing of real value has ever begun in their lives; they are still only living for what’s going to be buried six feet under the ground.  They also have hardships and heartaches and difficult experiences and circumstances; they go through it all, but it’s all in vain.  There’s no seed sown there, so nothing is being produced.  It’s a pity.


One time in Korea I visited a pottery shop, and it was most interesting because I’m sure that what I saw there was the same as what we read in Jeremiah 18 — so primitive, no tools to work with.  He had a wheel, of course, and do you know how he turned it?  He was barefoot and he kicked it with his bare foot.  But I never saw such a skill in all my life.  Those men have amazing, unbelievable skill!  He was making one of those big pots that they use a lot in Korea.  The clay turned on the wheel, and as Jack was telling us this morning, one hand was inside and one hand on the outside.  This was quite a big pot that he was making, and in the hand on the inside he held a metal object, and on the outside he had a pattern, a wooden pattern with which he was beating that clay while it was turning over.  It was through this conflict of turning and beating that the vessel was being formed.  Honestly, the skill was amazing!  It was just like magic — the vessel he made was perfectly formed, perfectly round — just turning that wheel and holding it on the inside and beating it on the outside.  I could hardly believe my eyes!  Now, I got a lesson that day.  We are like clay in the potter’s hands.  God’s people on the inside have something that’s holding them up; their conscience is holding them up, but on the outside, they are beaten by temptation.  There is a conflict — there has to be — but it is in this conflict that God is building a character and tempering our soul.  A conflict is absolutely essential and that is why it happens.  Inside, there is faith and there is courage holding up the outside.  Hard experiences and suffering brings conflict, brings pain, but it’s in this conflict that God is forming a vessel.  It is necessary.


You heard how pearls are formed — we don’t have to go into that — it’s from suffering.  Pearls are formed through suffering, and I do have a feeling that some of the most beautiful qualities that God is putting into the lives of His children is through suffering — not because God enjoys giving anybody suffering, but there is no other way to do it.  Those that are going to be the most precious, that are going to shine the brightest on the other side, it comes through suffering.  There’s just no other way.  But we can rest assured that no more suffering will be allowed but what is absolutely essential for that.


I just want to mention a little more.  One of our friends in South Africa is a mine captain in a gold mine.  He told us something very interesting.  He told us that gold goes into the furnace seven times, and every time the furnace is hotter than the time before.  He said that when it comes out the seventh time, that gold is so pure that you can actually see your face in it.  This is not my thought; it’s the thought of our friend, the mine captain.  He said, “Is this not what God is doing?  He puts us through these trials — it happens over and over again with many experiences, but He is doing it until finally He can see the face of His Son in us.”  That is what He wants – to see in us the face of His Son.


The last time I went on a home visit, I got there just too late to see my father.  He had died just a month before I arrived.  Many people in that town, when they saw me said to me, “You’re just like your father.”   Sometimes I saw my mother looking at me and she was seeing little things that were reminding her of my dad, and I could see what it was doing to her.


I would like to put a little picture before you, in closing.  You see a woman whose husband dies before her first child is born, so he has never seen his father.  She loved her husband.  This little boy grows up and when he becomes a young man, the mother notices that he is just like his father— little things he does, the way he looks, something in his voice reminds her of her dead husband, just as if he was here again.  I believe it touches the heart of God very deeply when He sees our works for a little while, when we have been submitting and finally He begins to see just some little marks that remind Him of His Son who gave His life for us.


We can now sing Hymn 92, “Have You Counted the Cost?”