As I confessed in last Friday’s blog post, I absolutely LOVE finding seashells. So, that makes Captiva Island and Sanibel almost utopia for me. When I’m searching for shells, the rest of my problems fade away. I’m not worried about the new house getting finished or a dozen other daily consternations. I’m not worried about my aches and pains or what is going to happen as Steve and I get older. I just focus on the ebb and flow of the tide and what treasures are being washed ashore. For me, it’s almost a religious experience. Most certainly, the act of being a shellseeker causes many spiritual thoughts and applications to emerge.
To be successful as a shellseeker, it’s important to prepare. Before we flew to Captiva, I bought some cheap tennis shoes I could use to wade along the shore. With so many broken pieces strewn about and embedded in the sand, it can be both painful and dangerous to walk barefooted. Flip flops are useless. They will just come off and float away. A shellseeker needs some kind of shoes that will withstand lots of water.
I anticipated finding treasures, so I had a bag in which to collect them. Again, it needed to be suitable for water and very lightweight. I wore sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Even though it was January, I wore some travel pants which could be converted into shorts with a quick zipper on each leg below the knees. I had to be able to get out to “where the good shells were.”
I researched which beaches on the island were reputed to be the best for shelling, and I headed toward them.
It takes a little time to develop what I call “shell eyes.” In other words, during the first few minutes, or maybe even the first day, of shelling, you don’t really know what to look for. You’re tempted to grab anything and everything. But, after awhile, you begin to look for certain colors, certain shapes that might be sticking out of the sand with the hope that the rest is buried just beneath the surface. And, what is really special is noticing a shell that rolls back and forth with the tide. THAT’S the sign that one of the sought-after shells may have made it to the shore.
It’s actually dangerous to stand in one place for very long when you’re shelling. On beaches with lots of shells, the surf causes the sand under your feet to erode quickly, and you can easily lose your balance and be toppled over, getting drenched and embarrassed in the process. It’s important to keep moving.
“Perfect shells” come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. Cat’s paws, scallops and cockles were probably the most numerous ones I found, but just because they were plentiful didn’t make them any less wonderful and delightfully-designed. One shell, though, in particular was my “prize” for this shellseeking time. It was a Florida cone — small, but with intricate swirls. Somehow, with lots of endurance and good fortune, that shell made it all the way to the shore without being crushed or broken. Quite a feat. And quite a happy find for me.
So, what were the spiritual applications and parallels I found while being a shellseeker?
- To be successful in other areas, I need to prepare. My heart needs to be prepared for worship, for ministry, for sharing my faith, for teaching and for being taught. When I am doing my work, I need to be mentally and physically prepared, and I should show up with the right equipment.
- God wants me to see people, circumstances, life situations through HIS eyes. I need to develop “God eyes.” Too many times, my eyes are full of prejudice or preconceived, erroneous notions. Often, they’ve been filtered by politics, my background or even through social media. Instead, if all of those layers were peeled away, what would God see in the purest form? That’s how I want to learn to see.
- “If you don’t change, you die.” That’s a phrase I heard just recently by a very successful business owner. He knew he needed to keep learning, moving, observing and determining how best to meet the needs of his customers. Yes. Absolutely, we are to be immoveable in our convictions and in our allegiance to Christ. But, in other areas of our lives, it is vital to keep learning, to keep growing, and to keep moving for maximum mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.
- “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” People come in many colors, shapes and personalities. God sees perfection in all of us. If I’m a “scallop,” then hallelujah, I am loved by God just as much as a “Florida cone.” He created beauty in endless forms for His purposes and for our enjoyment.
The Bible tells us to be prepared for the Lord’s return — Luke 12:35-38, and to put on the whole armor for fighting the battle against Satan – Ephesians 6:10-18. God’s Word reminds us that God doesn’t look as man does, but instead He looks at the heart – 1 Samuel 16:7. I could give you more references, but I think you get the idea. What activities or hobbies do you have that teach you spiritual truths? I’d love to hear about them.