Sally has been selling seashells down by the seashore for years and I am sure she would appreciate my business.
However, I want to save my $5 to go buy expensive coffee. Plus, as I recently learned on the shores of Venice Beach, Florida, I want to find the shell by myself. I want to discover it with my very own hands – fingers grabbing, searching, reaching, and pulling up treasures from the deeps.
“Look at what I found!” I can see the kids running and pulling in close to see what mommy excavated from the waters. Another beautiful shell for our collection; score for mom!
It has to be the perfect shell. Whole. Not like the crazy ones we keep finding that are all jagged and botched up like a plastic surgery gone wrong. No chipping or fractures. Just like in the stores, except found by me, the Shell Whisperer. I envision a Conch shell, you know that ones that you blow in and announce that you are the queen of the sea.
The only problem with finding shells is that in order to find a “good” shell you have to go out into the waters (meaning you have to go out past your knees.) In order for me to swim with marine life, the conditions have to be just right, with the promise of NO jellyfish and most importantly, NO sharks.
But the depth and visibility also has to be just right. I cannot grasp the depth of the sea. I surely cannot see where it end or begins. Part of me wants to be pulled out into deep waters to find mysteries unseen, but the much larger part of me is scared to death of such an experience.
I do not venture into the deep blue sea because I have a healthy fear of the waters, and rightfully so. I mean have you seen Baywatch? It can get bad out there (unless you are Pamela Anderson, and in that case. everything remains perky and floats to the top). The waves remind me that I am small and fragile.
On a recent family vacation I bravely entered the water up to my hips. I was really enjoying the new brave Annie Leigh until some of our friends announced to us that according to local news authorities, “Catherine” The Great White Shark was spotted on the exact coastline we were swimming in.
In exactly 2.7 seconds . . . back to the beach chair and building sand castles by the sea.
I tiptoe in the waters.
Would I love to go out into the ocean and ride the waves in my O’Neil surf gear? Of course! The ocean is indescribably breathtaking, and learning about all that lies underneath absolutely mesmerizes me. But at the same time, this is why we pay for cable television. This is why we acclaim The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week as one of the greatest weeks of the year. You can see these unbelievable specimens, and you can do it all from your couch – while eating Amish popcorn and sipping on a green smoothie (or if you prefer my husband’s taste, sipping on a Cherry Coke).
Either way, the following song lyrics will explain my convictions and way of thinking when it comes to these fascinating beasts of the sea:
Baby Shark Do Do Do do Do do. (repeat)
Daddy Shark Do Do Do do Do do
Went a Swimmin’ Do do Do do Do do
Saw A Shark Do Do Do Do do Do do
Swimming Faster Do do Do do Do do
Lost A Leg Do do Do do Do Do
Going To Heaven Do do Do do Do do
Now, don’t get me wrong. I look forward to going to heaven and being with Jesus. Come Lord Jesus, now. However, I must admit it’s not on my bucket list, to kick the bucket in a shark’s belly.
But back to Shark Week. You’ve got this entire week dedicated to this huge fish that has thousands of razor sharp teeth, and if I’m not mistaken, those teeth were not designed for eating seaweed. In fact, those teeth were made for meat (and last time I checked, I was weighing in as a nice meal). I watch in amazement as marine biologists and people who have lost all insanity get in the water to swim and video these wild animals. It’s one horribly unwise life decision, but it sure makes for great entertainment.
The only “great” white beasts I want to see flopping around in the water are my two legs and I would like to keep them attach to my hips.
However, there is something more frightening than shark attacks and that is the holiness of God. When we have a fear of God, respecting his call and plan for our lives, we no longer have to fear the blow of death. There have been shark attack survivors but no one survives a blow from a holy God, except those covered in the blood. When we fear the razor sharp holiness of God, there is no need to fear the sting of death.
It is a scary thing to face a monster but it is scarier still, to live a life in fear of the wrong thing.
I am small. Sharks are big. God is bigger.
The tide is trumpeting an announcement of things hidden, like a friend rolling out an invitation for us to swim to a place in which we’ve never tread.
But all we can think about are monsters hiding in the deep and losing oxygen. As a result, we sit on the beach sipping on daydreams. On the shore, mingled in the sand, are seashells. There are countless smooth stones whispering of the greatness and wonder of the deep. I can see them. I know there is more to behold. I know there is so much more to experience, as I taste the ocean salt on my lips.
All of these tiny, jagged, ordinary shells were creating a beautiful mosaic along the shoreline – as if they were telling stories from the great deeps. They were telling stories of what eyes cannot see and ears cannot hear. They had been tossed about by the current and were thrown against the shore. Some smooth, some jagged, some broken beyond resemblance.
My daughter and I built a kingdom of sandcastles. Her final touch was putting these tiny shells against the castle walls.
“Yes!” I thought to myself. “Yes!”
It hit me like a tidal wave.
The Father is building His kingdom and He is using the broken, fragile, and the jagged. He, unlike me, is not searching for the beautiful shells. He is using the broken and small to build something beautiful. A kingdom that is being pieced together by a mosaic of the jagged, the crushed, and even the ugly. There is a kingdom that cannot be washed away because it is built on the rock. A mosaic of saints testifying to the mysteries, greatness, depth, and power of the great deeps – a great God who saves sinners not because of how attractive we are, but in spite of how horrid our sin makes us to be. A Savior who doesn’t redeem us because we are beautiful, but a Savior who washes us in His blood to make us beautiful.
I am getting brave and I am slowly getting in a little deeper. Though sometimes it seems so far away, I hear His voice calling my name, and it’s a voice that I can’t resist. Do you feel the tide pulling you?