Kneeling in the sand he looked down and what lay before him was a broken seashell. At first, this shell was seemingly like the millions of other shells that lie upon every beach throughout the world. But this seashell was somehow different. The young man settled into a seated position and began to examine the shell. What he noticed first was the color of purple that ran upon its top edge. Then looking closer he could see how the sand and force of the sea had smoothed the once jagged shell. At that moment it occurred to him that what he held in his hand was truly unique. There could be no other seashell in the world just like this one. Even though it was only a portion of what it once was the shell was still whole in a sense, because it had survived the ravages of life. Every break, crack, and hole helped to tell the story of this one particular shell.
In this young man’s life had been many hurts and heartaches at the hands of others, and even a few self-inflicted wounds. He struggled to understand how God could love such an individual like himself. When he looked back at his life before the shell all he could see were the effects of sin and shame. As he looked forward, holding the shell in his hand, he realized in spite of his brokenness, he was whole. The negative events in his life had helped to uniquely shape him into the man that God wanted him to be.
Note these words from the Apostle Paul;
Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
First, because of the work of Christ we can experience a sense of peace from God only because we are at peace with God. Secondly, we can take comfort and joy in knowing that God doesn’t waste a hurt. He uses the sufferings in this life to build us into the people that He would have us to be. And three, the hope we have is a confident expectation that the magnitude of God’s love is manifested through His Holy Spirit, and knowing He never leaves us alone.
I will forever be grateful to the person who wrote that message in the sand so many years ago. It wasn’t by accident they wrote what they did or when they did. For me, it was providential that I see in ten foot letters that Jesus loved me. It was providential that I kneel where I did in order to see that one particular seashell. Just to let you know, I carried that shell in my pocket for years as a reminded of God’s love and compassion. Today it sits upon my desk as one of my greatest treasures.