As the car slowed, the anticipation mounted and there was a sure surge of excitement running through the family. Gathering our things, the process of getting four kids out of the maze of seats in our car commenced, as we eagerly piled out. Although only 50 degrees out with a slight breeze, alright more like wind blowing, and with the view of the ocean just out of sight, we could still smell the crisp scent of the salty air as the sound of the distant waves told us we were indeed at the right place.
Thinking ahead, Katie and I had brought buckets, one red and one blue with those little yellow shovels, for Matthew and Kyle. Although when we presented them with these, it was apparent that they thought they might just be too old for those buckets and shovels, although Katie and I knew they weren’t! Especially when they found treasures to bring back from the beach or when castles begged to be made in the sand. Turns out none of us were too old for the buckets, as soon as we got down to the sand!
Now with the description from the past two paragraphs, don’t get the misconception that it was warm, because it wasn’t! But that was not going to stop us and our friends who were there with us, from enjoying the beach. With jeans rolled up, we got our feet (alright our pants as well) wet before we headed back to the sand to attempt to warm our numb feet. Together we walked on the beach and collected shells (alright I collected shells). I don’t know what it is, but down on the beach with all those shells I can’t help but collect them. I’m almost like that five year old who took collecting pebbles very serious (mind you, I still have my rock collection). So, after our exploring with two almost three whole sand dollars found and pockets full of shells and kind friend’s pockets also full of my shells, we made it back to those who had stayed behind in favor of staying in one spot. By that time most everyone was ready to go because of it being rather cold (although I was ready to make a sandcastle) so we headed back to the cars and then our hotel.
At the beach with the powerful ocean dominating the landscape, you can’t help but to come closer to understanding God’s power and might. As I observe God’s creation, I look around at His masterpiece with awe. It seems that out in nature I can never walk away without having learned something new about the God who created the vast skies above and the tender blades of grass beneath our feet. Thus, later that day when we were warm and out of the wind, I started to contemplate and wonder at what exactly that something about God was that I had learned.
It didn’t come to me right away, but as I thought about the walk on the beach and my eagerness to collect shells, the lesson on the beach started to become clearer. You see, I had collected many shells, but most of them were fragmented pieces that were not whole and even the ones that were more complete, were still chipped or broken in some place. Despite this, my enthusiasm and enjoyment to comb the beach to find these pieces was not dampened at all. I found shades of purple, blue and pink on the inside of the shells! I found shells that were broken, yet as they were tossed and turned in the rolling of the waves their rough edges had become smooth. Broken as they were, they were still beautiful and worth searching up and down the beach for, even in the cold.
Even though they were broken and incomplete, they were still beautiful. As they lay covered in sand on the beach as I eagerly collected them, I found delight in each new shell I uncovered! Sound familiar? Remind you of anyone?
Luke 15:4-7 (NIV) says
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Just like the shells, in the parable of the lost sheep, God (the shepherd), eagerly went looking for the missing sheep, just as He searches for each of us when we are lost. As in the parable, I was eagerly scanning the beach for the broken pieces of shells, like God is eagerly looking for us, chipped and broken as we are, like the shells laying in the sand on the beach. So next time you are walking about this beautiful creation of God’s, remember to be looking for His hand prints, for they are all over the place. Sometimes it just takes an observant eye or a step back to see that there are lessons to learn about Him all over the place, even on simple walks on the beach with friends.
Delighting in God and His Creation,