Beaches are some of the most beautiful places in God’s creation. But there’s one in northern California that didn’t start that way. It’s called Glass Beach, and it got its name because the local town didn’t have a garbage removal service. So they threw their trash over the cliffs. Empty bottles, shattered windows, even cars ended up there. Eventually, the city was forced to shut down the beach.
That’s when something really interesting happened. As the years passed, the waves ground all that broken glass into smooth pebbles. Finally, the garbage-filled beach was transformed into a beautiful kaleidoscope of color.
This whole process reminded me of our sanctification – the way in which we as Christ-followers are molded and shaped through the power of the Holy Spirit to become more and more like our Savior. The book of Titus puts it this way:
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7, ESV)
We know that the grace of Jesus has already justified us in the eyes of God. But as fallen human beings, it’s impossible for us to fully live out the perfect character of Christ each day. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. It’s only through his activity in our hearts and minds that we can truly be changed, sharing more and more in our full humanity regenerated and raised up in Christ and give to us by his Spirit.
Like the waves crashing year after year on Glass Beach, the Holy Spirit works to remove our rough edges, using events and circumstances in our life for the refinement of our character, gently and persistently re-shaping us into the image of Christ. So that just like Glass Beach, what might start out looking like garbage can be refined into a truly beautiful kaleidoscope reflecting the very light and life of Jesus Christ.