During a hike on Whiteside Mountain in Highlands, North Carolina, the mica I saw shining from rock after rock along the trail brought back sweet memories.

My family camped on vacations when I was a child, exploring hundreds of trails in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains along the way.  I was always dazzled by what seemed to be diamonds in the rocks but which, at some point, I grew to know as the mineral mica.  The mica specks were flat and smooth and, if you found a large enough piece, you could pull off flakes, in perfect, smooth little sheets.

Fascinating stuff.  Endless treasures along the trail.

I often tried to take some of the beauty home with me, slipping the most striking rocks in my pockets as we walked.  I would arrange these on a shelf in my room, be dissatisfied, and then rearrange them, trying to duplicate the beauty I had initially seen.  I couldn’t do it, though, and would ultimately throw the rocks out.

It is only now, in my sixtieth year, that I understand why these rocks disappointed me when I moved them.

They are beautiful in their own environment—outdoors, washed by rain, surrounded by other rocks, trees, and dirt, and where they readily reflect the sun’s fire.  And their beauty is not destroyed by the harsh treatment that comes their way from hikers that walk on them, other rocks and dirt that grind them down, or wild animals that poop on them.  In their place, surrounded by greys, greens, and browns, with the occasional pinks and purples of nearby flowers, these rocks have sparks of beauty that catch the attention and imagination of passers-by.   That beauty was lost when I tried to keep it to myself on a bedroom shelf.

I see a deeper message here.  If we hide ourselves out of fear or selfishness, if we treat ourselves as museum pieces that need to be protected from the elements, if we remove ourselves from the environment in which God placed us with purpose, we can no longer reflect His glory.

You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-15 NIV

Just like the mica, if I hide the gifts God has given me under a bowl (or on my bedroom shelf), those gifts will not be seen and used for God’s glory.  My gifts need to be used wherever and whenever God gives the opportunity.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….


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