A gift of time away from our little blessings. A time to reflect, talk, or sit in silence. We were celebrating eleven years of marriage, eleven years of a covenant commitment. It was nice!
As we walked along the Jersey shoreline we were overwhelmed at the number of seashells that had washed up. We don't normally go down there this early in the season. By Labor Day, we are lucky to find a whole clamshell and a couple of pieces of seaweed. As we continued to comb the beach we came upon a cluster of shells that at first glance looked like complete chaos. Chards of shells piled on top of each other. But as we approached the pile, got down on hands & knees, a very different story was revealed. There were hundreds of whole shells; tiny whelks (commonly called conch shells), scallops, a couple of Augers, Wentletraps, slipper & moon snail shells all clustered together. I never saw so many in one place. (FACT OF THE DAY: The whelk is the NJ state seashell.)
So as we sorted and searched to find a treasure we were struck by the amazing intricacies of each shell, particularly the teenie-tiny versions. How could anything be that small? And in those moments we had some perspective. Between remembering how our awesome God created every living thing (even the teenie-tiniest seashell) to the vastness of God's love & knowledge of each and every one of us. Like the pile of shells that looked like chaos to us, God can see each and every shell, knows every grain of sand. He knows. When he takes care of the tiniest details of the seashells, each unique in color, size, twists, patterns...how can we ever feel like God doesn't see us? Doesn't know or care about the tiniest details of our lives?
It was relaxing that evening being on the beach, listening to the calming lullaby of the ocean waves, smelling the sea breezes, and hearing the familiar squawks of the seagulls above. And picking seashells started out as a search for the perfect, whole shell and quickly became an opportunity to see the beauty in all of them, even the broken ones. The interesting ways the sea changed them over time, made some smooth and polished. Broken pieces with brilliant purple or textures & ridges warn by the waves. It didn't matter anymore if they were whole. They were still beautiful.
I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. God doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't throw out the imperfect, the broken. He is not a collector of the whole. He made us. He knows we are all broken. And like the shells, once we are broken we cannot be whole in the same way we once were. The only way to become whole again is through Jesus Christ. If you mend a broken shell together with glue the crack is still there. We all have scars we carry, battles we have fought, brokenness we often try to hide. But God knows it's there. He is a Healer and a Redeemer.
And we are a beautiful treasure in His hands.