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Seashells By the Seashore

Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."



Maybe you're not a rock collector when you go to the beach. Maybe you prefer seashells. The waves of the ocean tend to roll the shells in, and so many people take time on their walks along the water’s edge, to find their treasure trove of seashells. We do have some shells that roll on to the water’s edges here with our lakes but the shells on the ocean beaches are far superior to lake shells. So, if you ever get a chance to visit the ocean beaches you can see the shells for yourself. Even if you haven't been seashell hunting yourself, you have probably bought some shells at a local store for something or another. Me? I really like starfish and sand dollars, but there is a vast array of beautiful shells to be found when you go looking for them. Like many other things on the beach, we can learn from the seashells too.

 

     Kids are wonderful to take to the beach. Aside from their joyous excitement of swimming and chasing seagulls they can teach us something about shells too. If you have ever collected anything with a child, you know that they are not picky. No matter how rough, or ugly, or how broken. If it's part of something they're collecting, it gets added to their stash.

     There is a story of a grandmother and her granddaughter Charlotte. Both loved to hunt seashells by the seashore, yet their approach was very different. Grandma Lynn liked to move quickly along the sand looking for the largest, most perfect, prettiest, unusual shells she could find. That, at times, made the pickings quite slim as the tide rolled in and out, constantly changing what came to shore. Grandma Lynn also liked to quickly fill up her bucket, get the task done and move on with her day.

     Charlotte on the other hand approached her shell hunt quite the opposite. No shell was too small, too broken, too ugly, or too imperfect to be added to her collection. She didn't have to walk far before she found her gold mine of seashells with “ooos and ahhhs” with each shell found. Charlotte was never in a hurry to be done with her hunt. She simply enjoyed the time spent with the people she loved doing things, with them.

     The biggest difference they had was their idea of success. Grandma Lynn felt it was a successful hunt with a good number of perfect shells in her bucket. Charlotte felt a handful of tiny shells was just as good as a bucket full. All seashells, large and small, broken or perfect, ugly or shiny were valuable and welcomed by Charlotte.

 

     That made me think about how we go rock hunting or shell hunting. There are so many times I've picked up a rock, examined it for perfection (usually I think about how it will polish up), and if it doesn't fit my idea of ‘good’, I toss it back into the water. Shells are the same way. If it’s broken, has a few imperfections, or is ugly, we usually toss it back to the sea.

     Kids, they will pick up a shell and decide it's a wonderful shell to keep. Even if it's broken, is just a few fragments, covered in seaweed or barnacles, discolored or jagged. They love them all.

     Unfortunately, we tend to pass judgment on one another too quickly. We base our approval or even friendships on someone else's appearance or reputation. It's easier to walk away from those who are broken, misfits, or have questionable characters. We tend to leave behind who we deem “not worth keeping”.

 

     How lucky are we that God doesn't turn us away because we are broken, damaged, or rough around the edges. I am so thankful God doesn't evaluate us like we do our collections. God doesn't look at us and say, “If this one wasn't broken, I would pick her.” God doesn't only want those of us who are ‘perfect’. His collection would be quite small for sure. I'm thankful God doesn't see our flaws and brokenness and throw us back into the sea of a world of sin. Instead, He picks us up in spite of our brokenness and He turns the mess of our lives into something beautiful.

     In the book Broken and Blessed, author Jessica LaGrone puts this into perspective. “God could have chosen to start right off the bat with a place characterized by glowing beauty, order, and light; but He wanted to show us that He likes to start with raw material. That’s good news for those of us who are still a diamond-in-the-rough. It’s good news for imperfect families, for struggling relationships, for lives that can’t quite seem to get it together, and for a world that is unraveling at the seams. When God wants to create the remarkable, He chooses to work with the less-than-perfect.”

 

     Grandma Lynn was able to reflect on her seashell experience with Charlotte in two words. “Joy” and “Wonder”. Charlotte found joy in her seashell hunt. She also experienced wonder in her ‘seek and find’ mission.

 

     We all could learn something from Charlotte's example when it comes to God's Word and spending time it’s pages. We could learn patience and perseverance to get to the end. Our daily worship should not become a check box of daily “quiet time”. Bible study completed, check. Prayers prayed, check. Bible bits written, check. Bible bucket full, yes, okay time to go on with my day.

     Like Charlotte, we need to learn to find the “ooos and ahhhs” in even the smallest things. Our joy should be found in discovering even a single word or phrase God has shown us in scripture not in the completion of reading through the entire Bible or even entire chapters at a time. As for our wonder, may we never cease the wonder over God's Word. No matter how long I've been a Christian I am still amazed when I read or think about all God has done for me since creation. I still find the ‘wow’ moments and I'm still learning new things, even with things I've read hundreds of times before.

 

     Raw material, diamond in the rough, broken, and imperfect. These words can describe shells on the beach. These words describe us too. Yet, we are part of God's family and even broken, God chooses to love and bless us so that we can be a blessing.

     Let's all go back to God's Word with the perspective of a child, with joy and wonderment. Then, what we see as imperfect around us will become as perfect as God sees it.


The Bible isn’t an easy book. It was written by God in an ancient time through people of different languages and cultures than our own, whose immediate audiences were different from us in many ways. It’s also a book written by God about God and the work he’s doing in the world. A work by such a divine Author, on such an immense topic, should be difficult to fully comprehend. So we’ll need to study and wrestle with God’s words—but it’s worth it, and here are five reasons why: Bible study illuminates our daily reading. Bible study protects us from twisting the truth. Bible study opens our understanding. Bible study deepens our devotion to Christ. Let's continue our Connecting with God series with lesson 8.




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