Broken Shells and Sea Glass

No trip to the beach is complete without a stroll along the water’s edge, searching for seashells and sea glass in the sand. The right beach, at the right time, can deliver beautifully complete conch shells, cockles, whelks, and if you’re lucky, a sand dollar or two. Occasionally you might stumble across my favorite find, those smooth colorful pieces of sea-worn glass – the result of a discarded bottle, broken and then worn smooth and edgeless by years of sand and waves. These colorful pieces of brown, green, clear, and sometimes even black glass, wash up on the beach in all sorts of shapes and sizes, each piece is unique. It’s fun to try and guess what kind of bottle each shard of sea glass may have come from, but aside from pieces with obvious markings, each smoothed fragment remains a mystery.

Now most of the time, a trip to the beach doesn’t produce many of those beautifully complete seashells for our ever-growing collection. My wife and I are fairly picky with which shells we bring home, but the same cannot be said for our 4 children. While we look for unique and complete shells and shards of sea glass, our children are prone to pick up any shell, broken or whole, that catches their eye (along with the occasional feather, crab shell, and who knows what else). A trip to the beach with 4 children, tends to produce a sand pail full of broken shards and cracked seashells to rinse and sort through, and unlike my smooth sea glass, broken seashells can be dangerously sharp!

Just as I wonder about the origins of my sea glass shards, my children try and imagine the shell before it broke into the fragments they collected. How big was it? What lived inside of it? What did it look like? Where did it break? Dozens of questions and raised curiosities flow forth from their minds – oh, to be a child again. Truth be told, some of the shards of shell that they collect, must have come from substantial shells, before the sand and waves shattered them.

Broken, sand battered, and wave beaten, shells and glass shards pepper the beach, most of them unwanted, unworthy, and passed over. The pieces lucky enough to be claimed, find that their value is only in the eyes of the one who picked them off the seashore, to all others, they were irredeemable.

Life tends to feel a bit like that. Broken and battered, by life and by sin, we imagine what we might have been like before we were broken by life, experience, or other people. We wonder what could have been, had we not thrown ourselves into bad decisions, harmful relationships, or dangerous life choices. Shells of our potential. Passed over. Unwanted. Unworthy. Irredeemable.

Yet, broken as we are, and with nothing to offer, we find ourselves snatched up from the sand, by One who deems us, “His treasure.”

He doesn’t care what your current condition is.

How broken you are or how you got that way.

He isn’t interested in what you could have been or what you were like before you were crushed.

He sees you broken and worthless in the sand, with nothing to offer, and then claims you as His own.

He snatches you from the pounding, unforgiving and unrelenting surf and washes you in calm, clean water.

He puts His name on you, claiming that you are precious in His sight.

And while the world may still see you as a cracked and broken shell, weathered and worn, the One who snatches you from the sand, declares you to be His own. In redeeming you for Himself, He gives you value and a new identity that comes from outside of you.

He proclaims that you are His beloved. You belong to Him and nothing can change that. He will never leave you or forsake you. And He affirms that nothing in all creation will separate you from His love for you. In fact, we are told that He has set aside all things in heaven and on earth, so that you would be His own.

While we were yet broken, with nothing at all to offer, Christ Jesus died for us.

By His death, and by your baptism into His death, you are no longer a broken shell, forgotten on the beach. You belong to Him who calls you precious in His sight.

 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.  Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other people in your place and other nations in exchange for your life.  Do not fear, for I am with you;” – Isaiah 43:1-5

No matter how broken you may look or feel, you are precious in God’s sight. He sees you worthless and broken on the seashore and snatches you up to be His own. Cleaned and polished, God places you in a position of honor and love, His beloved son or daughter, and an heir of eternal live and everything heaven has to offer. He will never forget or forsake you, because in Christ, you are precious. He loves you and has given Himself for you, even suffering death, for you.