As I walked along the sandy shore, I was startled to see a rather large shell protruding after a retreating wave. Intact seashells rarely, if ever make it all the way up the Chesapeake River and James River without being tumbled into fractions of their former selves. The only survivors tend to be local clams, oysters and a variety of small snails.
A pretty pink scalloped rim rose from the water’s edge and I hurriedly picked it up fully expecting to hold a palm-sized treasure, but it was only a portion of the whole yet once more. As I looked at the slice of shell in my hand, I could easily see what it must have looked like at one time. On one side deep grooves funneled to its base in colors fading from dark pink to cream, the other side was smooth and white. I felt a bit sad. I realized I was missing seeing what it was or could have been. The broken bit in my hand seemed so discarded; even I did not feel compelled to keep it for any particular reason. It was not really worthy of display or collection. I tossed it back to the water’s edge and watched as the next few waves once again buried its brokenness below the sand.
I began to walk along the beach once more, eyes now searching for a possible shell that had survived the journey to this shore. Along the water’s edge, there was a thick trail of shattered shells, dumped unceremoniously with each ebb and flow. As the tide retreated, the narrow pile of shells remained, marking the highest point of the day’s tide. That is when I noticed something more beautiful than any unbroken shell I have ever found.
The sun’s setting rays illuminated the long line of shells at my feet. The shards of broken shells glistened in the sand like pastel confetti! The shell sections of various sizes, color, and shape all mingled to form a breathtaking banner along the shore. I had been so intent on finding a whole shell that I nearly missed the whole view!
I bent to scoop up a fist full of shell pieces. I examined the crumbled remains in my hand, many too small to imagine what they once looked like, and yet together they were a colorful mosaic. They may have been beautiful at one time, or maybe going to be beautiful, before they were whittled away by time and life, but now they are once again a beautiful sight.
Let us not be discouraged if time and life have whittled us down from what we once were, or hoped to be. Yes, it is sad that we may have lost a bit of ourselves along the way, but God in His love and grace has a plan for us. We may be broken, no longer whole, but through His love and grace, we are part of the WHOLE of His creation, and that is truly breathtaking.
“but God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ(by grace you have been saved)….in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:4-7
Believer, broken or whole, together we are a breathtaking, eternal display of God’s amazing grace!
I didn’t realize at first why this particular story made me cry. I guess many times I see my life as broken, like that piece of shell. I thank God for friends and family that encourage me, and remind me that my life is a beautiful one. Thanks Teri, for being one of those friends.