What is it about walking along the beach that simply begs me to stoop down and pick up a shell? And is it possible to pick up one…just one? Apparently not for me! Before we left on our vacation, my husband was rummaging through the closet looking for his hat when he came upon a box of shells from our last beach vacation several years ago. He thought it necessary to point out to me the existence of said box, perhaps in the vain hope that I would disobey vacation bible commandment #1.
As I mentioned in my last post, we shared our vacation with Debby–tropical storm Debby–so shell collecting was impossible for the first few days. My daughter hoped to find that treasure of all treasures, a sand dollar, and as soon as she could stand upright on the beach, she and her husband were out combing the sand. Because of the violent surf, I assumed she wouldn’t find anything that wasn’t broken to pieces, but I was mistaken. She found not one but two sand dollars! Fueled by her success, she moved on to a new project: finding tiny shells with which to decorate picture frames. Of course, I pitched right in to help, obediently following vacation commandment #1. I was duly rewarded with two lessons from the same Lord who created all those shells.
As the collecting progressed, my daughter Katie and her husband became more discerning about the shells they wanted to use. They wanted small Florida Ceriths and Augers. At the end of the island, shells had piled up into a quite a large mound; this became the prime spot for picking up those little treasures. As I took an early morning stroll, I stopped to search the mound in hopes of finding an Auger or Cerith or two for their collection. It didn’t take long for me to get frustrated. How could I possibly spot those skinny little shells among the thousands and thousands in the mound? I was immediately reminded of watching Jeremiah the day before. (You should know that Jeremiah has the patience of Job.) He sat in that very spot and just looked for the longest time, occasionally moving his hand gently through the shells. As I tried to imitate his “technique,” I saw an Auger…and once I spied one, it was as though the blinders were removed and I could see several! I would gently move my hand through the shells and then patiently look until I could see another, and another, and another.
I sensed the Lord speaking to me about the perils of not seeing the treasures he sends me among the people I serve. It’s easy to go about my days looking at the sea of faces without really recognizing their value to God. How often do I look at a ministry team without seeing the giftedness of each individual? What about the times when I am tempted to speed through a conversation without really listening closely to discover how God has equipped this particular person for the good works he has prepared for them to do?
Jesus might have said, “Let those who have eyes to see, slow down and look more carefully.”
Check back tomorrow for lesson two!