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“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?      To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

This leading scripture by the Old Testament prophet is said to have been a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt who became the 26th President of the United States under tragic conditions on September 14, 1901. As the Vice-President – he succeeded President William McKinley who died from a gunshot eight days earlier. Theodore Roosevelt came from a high-society New York City family, wealthy descendants of the first Dutch families who settled Manhattan. By the age of 25, he had accomplished more than many men twice his age. Over the prior two years, he had become one of the leading lights of the New York Legislature. But social status could not protect him from personal tragedy. On Valentine’s Day 1884, both Roosevelt’s mother, age 48, as well as his 22-year-old wife passed away. Later that year he relocated to the Dakota Badlands where he hoped to grieve their loss, launch a career as a writer, and mend some personal health issues he had developed as a child. Theodore Roosevelt presented as a rather poor candidate for acceptance into the Western fold; however, ranch life eventually brought him the health and strength that had long eluded him. In his autobiography, Roosevelt wrote of the Badlands, “I owe more than I can ever express to the West, which of course means to the men and women I met in the West.”

No doubt you have at one time or other heard the term, “Diamond in the Rough.” This phrase is used when someone refers to a person who has exceptional hidden characteristics and future potential, but currently lacks the final touches or finesse that would make him or her stand out from the crowd. Perhaps Roosevelt was a bit of a ‘diamond in the rough’ despite his refined cultural upbringing. After all – it was his western experience and developed “cowboy image” that prompted him to conceive and exercise leadership in the Rough Riders cavalry unit at the start of the Spanish-American War in 1898, and prepared him to become President of the United States at the dawn of the 20th century. Like the cutting and polishing process required to form a precious diamond, Roosevelt’s image is sculpted into granite stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial in South Dakota alongside Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. His friend, historian Henry Adams, once stated: “Roosevelt, more than any other man… showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter—the quality that medieval theology assigned to God—he was pure act.”

A diamond doesn’t automatically shine and sparkle. When it is uncut, it is rough and not at all like a diamond found in jewelry.  It has to be fashioned by someone who is skilled in cutting in order for it to glitter and reflect light. Although diamonds are rare, expensive, and highly prized – they are nothing compared to how God values us. Never forget that Jesus looked at an impulsive, uneducated fisherman named Simon and saw a ‘diamond in the rough’ who he later referred to as ‘the rock’ (Matthew 16:18). This very same Simon Peter said: “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5). God could have shaped us as beautiful sparkling diamonds. Instead He allowed us to be ‘diamonds in the rough’ because He foresees the ultimate creation of what we can become under His carefully guided hand. Pastor Rick Warren says, “God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls and coal into diamonds by using time and pressure. He is working on you too.” God charges us to become better, to grow, and to shine. Today, let us consider where we might need a bit of polish and think about areas that need to be cut away. When you yield to the master cutter, you will then be able to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). What was once simply a ‘diamond in the rough’ will be no more!

REFLECTION: What are some areas of your life that remain like a diamond in the rough? After we have identified these weaknesses with the help of the Holy Spirit, do we trust God enough to grind back the flaws in our character and to polish our surfaces closer to be more like Him? How can we help others see that each one of us has our own imperfections that can only improve by the work of the Master’s hand?


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