I think that if most of us opened a hundred, or even a thousand oysters, all it would take to convince us of the existence of pearls, would be to find just one. Those who are experts, would no doubt be able to find more than the rest of us. But just one, only one, real, sweetly glistening pearl, would be enough to persuade us, that all the stories of seabed treasure, are true.

I have not seen many real healings, or exorcisms, or dramatically transformed lives in the kingdom of God. But I have seen some. Amidst all the many disappointments, amidst all the hype, even amongst what sometimes appears to be blatant lies – or at the least, blatant mistakes – there have been those occasions when the evidence of reality has been as sure as holding a small precious pearl in my hand.

I am not certain why some of us feel the need to pretend, though I have done it enough times myself. Perhaps it is an attempt to prove that we have faith, though whether that is to persuade other people or to convince God is not clear. But just one pearl, is all it takes to be certain that there is a fortune awaiting discovery somewhere amongst the oyster beds of the world

I am persuaded that the treasures of the kingdom of God are there for those who go on seeking. The biggest discouragements will come from the false alarms, those times when the kingdom is proclaimed as power, but then uncovered as no more than a lot of noise and empty words. It will be particularly discouraging, if we have been persuaded to commit our time and money on someone else’s recommendation, only to find that they have used both to further their own ends.

The recovery of faith and hope comes when God enables us to forgive both ourselves and others for accepting the counterfeits and the dummies. But the counterfeits and dummies do not, cannot, negate the reality that God Himself will give if we turn to Him again in simple helplessness.

All that is necessary is just one real thing. Just one true aspect of the kingdom in the midst of a hundred false ones. It is important that we are not afraid of acknowledging falsehoods; most of us have been entangled with them somewhere along the line. However, it is essential that we also acknowledge reality. It may be weak, faint and even dimly perceived, just a little pearl, but if it is real, then may God give us the grace to continue searching, until we discover the increasing grace and fullness that He has for us.

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