At one time the land above the underground sea was filled with a rich, vast forest. But even as the climate changed and transformed the forest into desert, deep cracks in the rocks below drained away the seawater, leaving a hollow of dark, barren emptiness. But cracks formed in the ceiling as well, allowing single drops of water stolen from the desert above to fall hundreds of feet to the floor, unheard echoes betraying this lone activity. The drops evaporated leaving no trace of themselves but the little bits of minerals they brought with them.
The minerals began to build upon each other, much too slow to be noticed in a human lifetime. Reaching from the ceiling, they formed long, narrow stalactites, while from the floor stalagmites reached upward. And the once-empty cavern became not a grave of a forgotten sea, but a thing of spectacular grandeur. Covered by a sparse New Mexican desert, Carlsbad Caverns reveals the hidden beauty beneath it. The real treasure is below the surface.
The Lord often accomplished His best work in us, not in the comfort of a fruitful forest but in the barrenness of a dry desert. Not only do we see the outward things dry up and blow away like a misplaced tumbleweed. No, He often allows the inside to be drained as well.
The unwise Christian will quickly call out to God to bring back the sea, take away the empty feeling and let him feel satiated again. But God creates beauty not only in abundance but in the emptiness as well.
The breathtaking caverns could not have developed had there not been tremendous loss of what was there first. To become what they were, something was forcibly taken away, and for a time, emptiness was all that was left.
Nor is this work done in a moment, in a single epiphany where God comes in a flash and all is settled from then on. While Moses may have been called through a burning bush, he was proven through 40years of leading an ungrateful, whining people through a trackless wilderness.
While David might have been anointed king by Samuel, he must first run from Saul for a decade and then watch the kingdom he inherited be split by civil war. While God often initiates His work in those dramatic first experiences, He as often finishes His work in a slow, deliberate process. Just as the single drops came in the caverns, God sends you daily experiences, daily challenges, daily opportunities to either allow or frustrate the Spirit’s work in you.
Even as the drops of water evaporate but leave behind traces of minerals, our daily experiences are soon gone and forgotten. Yet each leaves behind something, perhaps imperceptible to us, but there just the same. If your experience is real, He is slowly building something of grandeur in the very place where you cried because of the emptiness of yesterday’s loss.
Who shall see this work of beauty? Visitors are allowed to walk around a small portion of the caverns but the guides told us this was but the smallest part of what was there. Still there were vast unexplored caverns that yet would reveal more and more of all that had formed in that place hidden away. Some will see part of the beauty God is forming in you – a close friend, a husband, wife, child or parent.
But no one will see all of it, until the day of revealing. Then God will show to us, to all, that if we were judged by surface appearances, we were misjudged entirely. All the while the outward was drying up, the inner beauty was forming. Day by day God was doing His hidden work in us. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).
Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But He made something beautiful of my life