“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)
It was our fourth vacation day at the beach.
Our youngest daughter and I ventured down the beach, eager to find at least one intact shell for our vacation collection. She had been filling her purple bucket with shells every day; however they were mostly broken. As I looked inside with little interest, I realized that these were remains of what once were large, beautiful sand dollars, massive conchs and shells of all kinds.
That was just not going to work. I was determined to find one intact large shell to bring home.
Our adventure remained unproductive as the hour went by and each scoop of wet sand revealed another broken shell. After reaching down once again to sift the sand, I spotted my daughter, skipping in my direction, holding what seemed to be the inside of a horse conch. Her eyes, beaming with excitement: “Oh, mommy, look! It is so beautiful!” I picked it up and was ready to shrug, in frustration, when I heard Him whisper: “Look again… It is broken… and beautiful. Much like My children are.”
There are moments in life when time stands still and our perspective turns 180 degrees to consider life from a new angle. That was one of those moments. I knelt down beside my daughter, seeing the twisted piece in her tiny hand in a new way. Broken… and simply beautiful.
A flashback of life danced in my mind as I contemplated the large shell piece: Shattering moments in the past; painful situations that caused me to break time and again. Sin that shattered my soul until my Redeemer made me whole. Broken pieces. That was me.
No, wait a minute. That IS me.
In a moment I realized that everything that I’ve ever done and ever gone through make me who I am.
“Oh, if I could ever go back!” How many times have we wasted time wishing we could go back and fix life!
On that beautiful day at the beach, holding a broken shell, I fully grasped the fact that, had I never been broken, I would not have known my Savior and experienced His redeeming, restoring love. For the first time since I’ve known grace, I truly embraced my brokenness as beautiful.
God loves broken shells.
Because I’ve been broken, I have seen the ugliness of sin for what it is… and invited Him to cleanse me and give me a new heart… He cleanses broken shells.
Because I’ve been broken, I can look at my brothers and sisters with compassion when they fail. And instead of judging them with unmerciful and self-righteous pride, extend them sympathy, forgiveness and love… He uses broken shells.
Because I’ve been broken, when my neighbor is hurting, I remember the pain. And remember to give. And pray for them… He softens broken shells.
Because I’ve been broken, and although the scars shall forever be a reminder of His deliverance and undeserving grace, my heart found peace and joy in Him… God restores broken shells.
Broken and beautiful. Just as God has chosen to use me to proclaim His mercies and be useful in His kingdom, I have chosen to bring a bag filled with beautiful broken shells home from the beach. They will be put in a vase and placed on my study desk: Beautiful memories of lazy days at the beach with the family I love and a fresh reminder of who I am in Christ: Broken, but whole. Scarred, but beautiful.
Do you find yourself grieving over sins of your past? Or wishing that life was different than what it is today?
Surrender your brokenness to Him. Because if you are His child, your hurt has a distinct purpose. Whether it is to cleanse you, strengthen or prepare you, even though you cannot see His purpose, dare to trust Him. You will look back one day and understand that, in the process of breaking you, He was remaking you. And when He’s done remaking that very part that was once broken, He will use you in a mighty way.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NASB)