There is an old Jewish folk story called The King’s Diamond. In it, there’s a king who had great wealth and power over a vast land. He had a diamond that became world famous because it was not only flawless; it was as big as a grapefruit. Many leaders of countries, kings and dignitaries from around the globe, had heard about the diamond and would make the journey to the king’s palace to get to see it. They would approach the throne, usually with an expert jeweler from their own countries, and request to see the diamond. The king would pull out a golden box adorned with other precious stones, open it and pull out a cloth bag that protected the perfect diamond, and then hand it to the jeweler to be “judged.” Every time this happened, and it happened hundreds of times, the jeweler would be astonished and exclaim, “It is flawless! Perfect!” and hand it to his king. It was this moment that brought the diamond’s owner to a most exhilarating pinnacle of pride. On one such day, as a jeweler was passing the diamond, he dropped it on the floor. When he picked it up, he discovered a long, slightly curved scratch on one of the largest flat surfaces of the diamond. The king was devastated as he looked at the diamond. It was no longer perfect but flawed. “It’s ruined!” he shouted.
After weeks of solitude in a state of depression, the king finally embarked on trying to find a jeweler gifted enough to restore the diamond to perfection. He offered a great reward and had hundreds respond, but they all said the same thing. It was irreparable – destined to be flawed forever. Eventually, jewelers stopped coming. The king lost hope and returned to his depression. And then one day, an old master craftsman from a local community walked into the palace requesting to see the diamond. The king was not impressed by the first sight of him, but he decided to hear him out. The old craftsman looked at every face of the diamond, especially the one with the scratch, and then he looked the king in the eye and said with a calm confidence, “Sire, I will not only restore this diamond to its prior state of flawless beauty; I will make it better.”
The king was so taken aback by the confidence of the man that he agreed to let him take the diamond with him. He was gone for a long time, months. The king was stressed out with anxiety as he waited. It seemed endless! Then one day the old master craftsman returned to the palace and went before the king. He handed the king the box. The king opened it, pulled out the cloth bag and took the diamond from it. He looked at it with his magnifying glass. Then he gasped, “It is truly more beautiful than it was before!”
The master craftsman was gifted in his skill of working on precious stones. But his bigger gift was in being able to see “possibilities” no matter the situation. Where others saw a flaw – a scratch on the once-perfect diamond – the master craftsman saw the beginning of a work of art. He used the scratch as a beginning of a masterpiece. It became the stem for the rose that the old man carved at the top of it. It was indeed more beautiful than ever before. Perfect, flaws and all!
One cold November morning in 2001, about 7:00, a car drove up to the main house at Capstone. It was a family who had contacted us about admitting their 17-year-old son. His behavior had gotten out of control with a lot of defiance and drug use. His parents had come to the point that they believed the situation could not be resolved without coming to a residential program to get him out of his loop: people, places, activities. As it unfolded during his stay with us, he had a lot of what we call Big T trauma, and nobody in the family knew about it. It sounds cliché-ish, but he really went through hell. His mom would walk up to me during family week and at other times and say with fear in her face, “Adrian, are you sure this [plan] is going to work?” I would always respond, “No, I am not sure it will work because there are so many factors that you and I can’t control. But I am sure that this plan is the best chance of things working!” It took a battle that lasted more than three years, and there were so many hurts that we exposed. So many close calls. So many wounds and scars and regrets. But amid the suffering, so many blessings and resiliencies.
Today those wounds and struggles that made this perfect diamond of a boy hurt, flawed and scarred are part of a masterpiece that is more beautiful than it ever was before. The dad and mom’s commitment and enduring love and effort; the boy’s resiliency, big heart and hard head; and the plan all worked together until they reached the Promise Land road. Today, he is in his 30s, married to a beautiful Christian woman. They have three wonderful children. He has a doctorate, and he uses his gifts as a therapist and a pastor. Gifts born and refined through the wounds and sufferings that tried to take him out. He lives his life to glorify God and has used his sufferings to help hundreds and hundreds of people win their battles.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece (meaning work of art), created in Christ Jesus to do good works that He prepared in advance (meaning before creation) for us to do.” I love that verse and the thoughts that God made each of us special and that we have purposes that are important that are waiting on us to use our gifts and talents to pursue. Most people think this comes as a pretty-wrapped gift basket. It never does! It comes as our original perfection being flawed with scratches that, at first, make us and our inner circles feel like failures and losers who are unlovable and unworthy. Then somehow, we start to experience God’s Mysterious Ways, and we enter the journey of a grace-powered comeback with a fragile hope that rises and falls as we take two steps forward and one back. Then one day, we look in our rearview mirror and see the masterpiece.