Seeking Seashells and Finding Starfish

I have not posted in a very long time.

A lot has happened in the past year or so. Currently, I am in my second semester of graduate school (what?!). I did not see that coming, but the Lord has been gracious. Although I do not always “expect” from God, he has continued to surprise me (I wrote a blog about that once–you can check it out here).

This theme of surprise–of delight, of exceeded expectations–has come up over and over again in my life in the past several months.

In January of this year, my family took a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina (my home away from home) for a little getaway before I returned to graduate school for my second semester. One day, as my parents and I were walking down the beach, we began looking for seashells. I am always amazed by seashells–all of the various colors and shapes and sizes, each one its own masterpiece. As we were meandering along the beach, stopping every few feet, I became slightly discouraged. My parents were finding some really cool shells, whereas mine seemed to be a little more mediocre. I realize this sounds silly now, but in the moment, I was actually a little bit jealous of my parents’ shell-finding abilities. As a walked along, hunting, processing these thoughts, God interrupted me. I heard his voice clearly:

“Patience, my child. You’re about to see something awesome.”

(Yes, the word “awesome” is a part of God’s vocabulary)

I was slightly amazed by this, and was a bit excited, wondering what I would see (anticipating a unique shell). As I continued on, examining the mass of shells stretching out in front of me, I stopped and looked down.

And there, right at my feet, was a starfish.

“A starfish!” I exclaimed.

(I really am like a kid when it comes to these things)

I showed my parents and, as the starfish was still damp, I had to opportunity to throw it back into the ocean.

And this is what I love about God: he delights in us, and he delights to delight us.

This also reminds me of when Jesus told his disciples, “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9).

It is all too easy to miss the small things that God puts in front of us–those glimpses of him that we will not see if we are not looking.

I was seeking, and when God spoke to me, I thought I knew what I would find.

It is tempting to place God within a box: the box of reason, the box of experience, the box of our own limited and biased expectations. But God is an out-of-the-box God. He calls his followers out of their boxes and into his kingdom of freedom and abundant life.

Jesus did not call his followers to seek in vain. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 7:8 and Luke 11:10:

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

-Matthew 7:8 ESV (emphasis added)

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

-Luke 11:10 ESV (emphasis added)

Two different gospel writers confirmed this statement of Jesus’.

If we seek, we will find. We just may find something entirely different than what we originally thought we were seeking.

I sought a seashell, but I found a starfish.



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