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Beach Lessons

Sanibel, Florida is one of my favorite places to visit. Unlike other beaches off Florida’s coast, Sanibel Island runs east to west rather than north to south. This means it’s a prime spot for finding all kinds of shells, not just the clam and oyster shells we’re used to finding here in Jacksonville.

I was recently looking at my old blog when I came across this one I had written nearly ten years ago, which I thought would be fun for our ECC summer blogs. I’ve updated it a little bit, and I hope you enjoy some of the lessons I learned from a trip to Sanibel.

1. Shells come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Some are small, obviously new to the world. Some are weathered and smooth.
People come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures, too. We're all uniquely made. And we're made in the image of God!

2. Some of the thickest shells have been left in pieces because of the power of the water and the grinding of the sand.
"Tough" people can break, too. Don't think that just because someone appears tough and thick-skinned, they cannot be affected by the storms of life.

3. If you want to find the really unique shells, you have to dig for them. True shell hunting doesn't happen on the surface of the sand.
The same is true about finding the treasures of God. Proverbs 2:4-5 says we are to seek for insight and understanding "like silver" and "as if for hidden treasure."  A quick perusal of the Bible will not take you to the depths of maturity and Christ-likeness required of believers.

4. A trip to Sanibel is much more exciting when you can share it with others.
The Christian life is meant to be shared - we are designed for community. Just as we share our finds from the beach, a Christian shares his or her discoveries of the character of God and His will for one’s life.

5. Walking along the water's edge is not enough - you've got to get your feet wet.
We're called to more than just Sunday morning pew-sitting. I believe God has a faith-filled adventure for all of us if we will just take the risk. When the water churns up the sand, it's hard to see what is under your feet. Faith often requires stepping into unknown circumstances.

6. There are some shells you have to be consciously gentle with or they will be broken by the time you get back to the condo.
Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. It should be evident in our lives. We're also told if something we do might make someone stumble, we shouldn't do it. So, there are some with whom we should be gentler. We sometimes justify our jabs with "speaking the truth in love." Is what we say and do said and done with gentleness?

7. There's more than enough shells for everyone to enjoy. It doesn't matter if some people head down before sunrise to start their search, or if someone is out there at midnight with a flashlight. There's plenty for everyone.
The same is true with the blessings of God. Why don't we rejoice with those who rejoice? God is not going to run out of goodness, love, mercy or blessings. His plan for you may be different than His plan for someone else, but it is still good. Don't feel like you're missing out on something just because someone else has it. Trust His sovereign plan.

8. Ultimately, a shell is just the empty home of a dead animal.
We need perspective. This world is not our home. Eventually, these “shells” - our bodies - will pass away, but if we "confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved" (Romans 10:9). We have something more to look forward to - Someone more to look forward to.

Angela Hastings