Lessons from the Seashore

Last week, my family was able to get away to the beach for a few days. It was a nice respite, but there were a few days that were a bit too chilly to do the normal beach thing. One day we opted to ride our bikes to a part of the beach on which we had never spent much time during previous trips. We had our sights set on seashells.

We came to a place on the beach where the shells were quite plentiful. After parking our bikes, Paige and Ellie began beach combing while I, not having the same level of trust in the “goodness” of men, decided to stay close to our rented bicycles. As their images began to shrink on the horizon, I found myself drawn to the water’s edge to watch the devil rays make their way up to the shallows and then disappear back into the shadowy deep. The tide was at a level which revealed a treasure trove of seashells and other assorted sea life. The quality and quantity were above average. There were dozens of horseshoe crabs scattered about like castaways doomed to being marooned on a deserted island. Gelatinous mounds of jellyfish made for minefield mischief. While I am no expert when it comes to seashell hunting, I can safely say it had been quite a while since I had seen this nice a variety. There were arks, scallops, clams, whelks galore. They were varied in color and many were still intact, unbroken by the waves and crowds of people.

I walked up and down my little section of beach as I kept watch over our bikes. My were eyes continually darting back and forth trying not to miss that REAL GEM of a shell. All of the sudden, as I made another step, for reasons of which I am still uncertain, I became aware of the sound of my footfall. Crunch! First of all, understand it was sub 60 degrees outside on this day and I was wearing tennis shoes (but without the mid calf, black socks like so many old, Yankee men I saw- wink, wink,  nod, nod). Each time my size 13 made contact with the beach, under the weight of my 27-acre body, I was pulverizing hundreds of tiny shells. The thought began to race through my head, “How many shells did I destroy looking for the good ones?”

Isn’t that what we do far too often? We have a way of stepping all over people who seemingly have no value to us trying to find the pretty ones, the powerful ones, the talented ones, or the ones that make us look good. 

Several years ago, Brandon Heath wrote and recorded a song entitled Give Me Your Eyes. To this day I find this song coming to mind as a prayer for me. Last night, my church hosted our annual Fall Festival. There were hundreds of people who came out over the course of the evening. Many, unlike me, looked like they really needed the burger we gave them. This song came to mind again.

I must confess, even as a pastor, I don’t naturally feel compassion for people as a I should. I pray that God would continually grant me wisdom, discernment and compassion for the lost and broken people all around me.

What do you think? Is this difficult for you too?

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