Lessons from a Beach Walk

When on a beach walk, shelling is one of my favorite pastimes. With waves as background music, I alternate between looking up at blue skies or looking down at the sand to collect shells to take home.  Usually, I am visiting a beach in South Carolina, the state where I grew up.  

The shells on South Carolina beaches offer 700 delightful varieties awaiting discovery. I've also enjoyed collecting shells in other states and countries. The impressive Triton shell I found in the Dominican Republic is one of my favorites. In Florida, I gathered some big conch shells with the glowing pink color inside. In Israel, I collected tiny shells in the Sea of Galilee.  I enjoyed finding whelk with their lovely shapes in the Bahamas Each kind of shell on any seashore has their own shape, color, and story. 

A Lettered Olive
On my most recent beach walk near Myrtle Beach, I found all sizes and shapes of cockle shells littering the sand in profusion. The Lettered Olive is the official South Carolina state shell and I found one today! As a writer I especially enjoyed the find. I also found a Shark Eye Moon Shell in perfect condition. 

In tidal pools, I also discovered miniature sea stars/starfish, a first for me in beach walking over the years. Some of the tiny starfish created quite a picture with the loss of one of their four arms. Locals say that the tiny starfish have been a phenomenon all summer.     

Some shells are so beautiful, they are a feast for the eyes. Others, like oysters, are not pretty but they sure are delicious. They remind me of the fun of an outdoor oyster roast. South Carolinians love to shovel oysters off steel-topped fires and dump them onto plywood tables. Oyster lovers like me are ready with an oyster knife. Some shells, like the ones in the Sea of Galilee hold a spiritual meaning because Jesus strolled the shores and walked on the water!  Other shells like the cockles make for clever craft projects. 

Looking at the varieties of shells my thoughts turned to God’s design for human beings. No two are alike. God endows each of us with personality, purpose, ideas, appearance, skin colors, smiles, hair, ability, etc. combined into a DNA all our own.

Our uniqueness does not shelter us from life’s ups and downs though. Like many of the useful or lovely shells, we experience brokenness marred and battered by reefs of problems, hurricanes of confusion, or unrelenting high tides of loss.  

Everyone I know has experienced some sort of brokenness, loss, or trauma. That includes me. Battered like broken beach shells, it is easy to wonder, “Will I make it?” King David experienced all emotions, questions, successes, and failures. 

Crying out in the Psalms, he wondered if God had abandoned him. He seesawed between passionate praises to the Lord and deep sorrows while hiding in a cave. In Psalm 34:1 David proclaimed, “Lord, I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me!” Then in Psalm 77:4 he laments, “I can’t get a wink of sleep until you come and comfort me. Now I’m too burdened to even pray!” (The Passion Translation)

Shark Eye Moon Shell
I have felt the same emotions. King David weathered all of it with God’s help. And we will too if we lock down scriptures in our minds and hearts, pray, fellowship, and hang on to Jesus with all we've got. My life verse, Philippians 4:13, assures me that “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  The photo on the left shows the whole moon shell I found and on the right, one that is broken. To me, it's a picture of hope that the Lord can heal our brokenness and restore us again.  

An angel wing
I left my beach walk with a bag of shells along with an infusion of hope. The Lord reminded me that whether in life’s brokenness or beauty-sometimes existing simultaneously-He walks with us along the shores of our lives! And the special Angel Wing I found reminded me that Lord's angels watch over me. I pray the same for you! 



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