June 18, 2023

Rescued From the Quarry

Cutting, chiseling, and polishing for eternity

Leo J. Poirier
Photo by petr sidorov on Unsplash

My great-grandson Connor is 7 and enjoys all things outdoors. He’s drawn to sticks, rocks, and will never turn down a good splash in the creek. I guess that’s not surprising with children everywhere.

For Christmas this past year, Connor’s parents gave him a rock polisher. He was super-​enthusiastic as he hunted for rocks to drop into the polisher. Once they were gathered, he placed them carefully inside. As the polisher was turned on, it made quite a racket, so much so it was eventually moved to the garage, where it wasn’t such a bother. It was all very exciting until my great-grandson learned that it didn’t take hours to polish a rock, not even days, but weeks! That meant a lot of noise and time to wait for the finished product.

There’s definitely a spiritual lesson found in rock polishing. It reminds me of trips years ago with my son, Connor’s grandfather.

“Look what I found!” Those were the words I often heard from Tim during one of our favorite father-and-son activities. We would visit old gem mines to sort and poke through piles of broken stones and debris, looking for unusual rocks or minerals for his rock collection. On this particular occasion I stumbled and climbed over the debris to reach his side and see what he had found. Tim was holding a black object in his hands, bar-shaped, about three or four inches long, which looked like it had been broken off from a longer piece. After further study, we suspected he was holding a large piece of black tourmaline, one of the more popular gemstones. A very exciting find!

Taken From the Quarry

When searching a mine or quarry, one can often see the marks made by the stonecutters. Sometimes there are long straight vertical lines where a drill bit cut through. In other places the marks of a jackhammer can be seen. Still other marks show the use of a sledgehammer or small hammer and chisel. All these marks tell a story of the rough cutting and painful work that must be done to begin the creation of an object of beauty. Taken from the quarry, what can look like an unremarkable stone will undergo a transformation. The stone will experience finer chiseling, sanding, and polishing before its unique luster can be seen, whether it be marble, granite, or one of the many precious or semiprecious gems.

The whole world is a quarry, and we are the rough stones that God, the Master Craftsman, wishes to refine and polish for His kingdom. For the unique characteristics of each individual Christian to be portrayed, the Holy Spirit cuts, chips, buffs, and polishes the rough edges of our personality. Notice how this process is described by Ellen White.

“By God’s mighty cleaver of truth we have been taken from the quarry of the world and brought into the workshop of the Lord to be prepared for a place in His temple. In this work the hammer and chisel must act their part, and then comes the polishing. Rebel not under this process of grace. You may be a rough stone, on which much work must be done before you are prepared for the place God designs you to fill. You need not be surprised if with the hammer and the chisel of trial God cuts away your defects of character. He alone can accomplish this work. And be assured that He will not strike one useless blow. His every blow is struck in love, for your eternal good and happiness. He knows your defects, and works to restore, not to destroy. He sends trials to you to make you strong to do and to suffer for Him.”1

Refining and Polishing

Whatever trials God permits to come our way, they are never easy to endure. They may involve heartache, pain, and a sense of being very much alone in our suffering. Like Connor’s rock polisher that takes longer than our patience may wish to endure, the trial may be extended, even for a lifetime. But we are never out of God’s hands and care. As the rock gives way to the hammer, our part is to place ourselves in His capable hands and trust Him.

Ellen White helps us understand this tremendous love of God. “You are mine. I have bought you. You are now only a rough stone, but if you will place yourself in My hands, I will polish you, and the luster with which you shall shine will bring honor to My name.”2

Reading a bit further, we find that a warning comes along with this polishing process.

“This process is severe and trying; it hurts human pride. Christ cuts deep into the experience that man in his self-sufficiency has regarded as complete, and takes away self-uplifting from the character. He cuts away the surplus surface, and putting the stone to the polishing wheel, presses it close, that all roughness may be worn away. Then, holding the jewel up to the light, the Master sees in it a reflection of Himself, and He pronounces it worthy of a place in His casket.” The process of extracting and crafting a precious jewel from a quarry is similar, whether from a physical stone quarry or a spiritual one. It’s not the quarry or the stone that makes the quality of the final jewel, it’s the craftsman. Many a fine diamond has been unearthed from its resting place far beneath the surface, only to have it mistakenly cleaved, destroying its potential beauty and worth. But we have nothing to fear when the Master Craftsman begins His work on us. He hammers and chisels in love, shaping and preparing a masterpiece—an eternal gem that will belong to Him forever. “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh” (Eze. 11:19).

1 In Review and Herald, June 20, 1907.

2 In Review and Herald, Dec. 19, 1907.