This month, Citizen celebrates its 30th birthday. In the parlance of marriage, that makes it our pearl anniversary.

Pearls are funny things, you know: Unlike most other gems, which are formed from inanimate substances exposed to intense heat and pressure, pearls are precious stones made by an irritated animal.

A tiny grain of sand gets in an oysters shell, and the mollusk wraps it in layer of nacrethe same substance its shell is made fromto protect itself from further harm. Of course, that just makes the irritant bigger, so another layer is added. And so on and so forth, until the oyster is harvested and the pearl is removed.

I sometimes think, in many ways, thats what weve been helping our readers do for the last three decades.

Lets face it, friends: The world can be a pretty scary place at times. There were a lot of things wrong with our culture back in November 1987, and there are many things still wrong with it. When all is not as it should be, it irritates us. And if we choose to let them, those things can really disturb our peace, steal our joy and rock our faith.

But that doesnt mean we should respond in anger. And though many may be tempted to retreat into their safe Christian enclaves and stay there until Jesus comes back, that isnt the mandate He gave us as the salt and light of the world. (In fact, that would be exactly what He warned us against doing in the parable of the 10 servants with the talents. Dont be the fool that buries yours.)

What we have been called to doand what we here at Citizen have made it our mission to help you dois take those irritants, those things that are not as they should be, and turn them into something beautiful and valuable. The Bible tells us we have the Holy Spirit living inside us and we have the mind of Christ. Therefore, not only do we have the spiritual authority needed to pull down strongholds and every vain thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ, but weve also been given all we need to bring creative solutions to the issues facing our families, our communities and our nation.

A few months ago, we asked readers to share with us the ways our stories have helped you make a difference over the years. Several responded; youll see those memories starting on page 6. Readers like these our are heroes! Thank you for inspiring us to keep doing what we do here at Citizen.

What kind of sand is in your shell today, friends? What issues are working their painful way into your sensitive spirits? Whatever you find there, its likely an area in which the Lord wants to use you to make a difference. Give it to Him; let Him cover it with layers of love and faith, working it out in you and through you. And when its all said and done, something priceless will have been made of your life.

Originally published in the November 2017 issue of Citizen magazine.