Encouragement for Today
”Shattered and Scattered Shells”
Spanish Ministries Coordinator, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared… from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.” (NAS)
I walked out onto the beach onto hard packed sand— good for a brisk walk. A cool breeze blew and I quickened my step. Yet, as I surveyed the ground ahead I couldn’t help but admire the seashells that stretched out before me. Here I saw a perfect conch. There lay part of a clam. I bent down to pick up a shell, but as I turned it over, I realized it was broken and threw it down. A little later I saw another lovely work of nature, beautifully banded, smooth, with unique colors. Once again I reached down to collect it. I immediately found a defect so I dropped it. Every once in a while I spotted, what seemed to be, a flawless shell. When I did find one without a blemish, I added it to my collection in my pocket. Mostly, though, I noticed that scattered as far as I could see were hundreds, no thousands, of pieces of shattered shells. Very seldom did I spot one that was perfectly intact.
I began to ponder the shells that surrounded me and slowly came to a realization. I thought about the similarity of those shells to my life. I am not perfect and I will never be. I would hate to be picked up, studied, and discarded because of my imperfections and defects. At that moment God reminded me that He doesn’t choose His children based on outer appearances. No one is faultless. God picks us up from the pile of scattered and shattered humanity and loves us with all our blemishes and brokenness. He also sends us into the streets fainting and flawed so He can reach the world with His message of rescue, deliverance, and release.
What is this message? Sometimes we look around us developing a sense of hopelessness due to our inability to compete with the world’s standards. We often do this because of the relationships we have experienced. Many of us feel tossed aside or overlooked, just as the shells I ignored because of their brokenness.
I considered society, community, and the relationships I had developed throughout my life.
I grew up in a nurturing home with loving and caring parents. As I grew, I noticed discrepancies and contradictions. I loved them too much to concentrate on the negative. I needed them in my life to guide me. I craved their attention and depended on their protection. I chose to accept them, flaws and all. If I let go of my hold on my family who could I find who would better care for me? When I left home, I met my husband and fell in love with him. He was the man for me. He could do no wrong – until I had married him and we had spent several months together. Slowly I turned him over and began to find flaws! I am sure he has seen many of my flaws. We didn’t discard each other, although it is today’s norm to do so. For 33 years we have made it a point to overlook each other’s faults and concentrate on the strengths we each bring to the marriage. Then, God graced me with darling little baby boys. Each was a picture of perfection – all ten fingers and toes. Pretty soon the colicky cries rang out in the middle of the night. Soon my babies began to walk and create havoc everywhere. When they turned two, they learned their favorite word, “no.” Often I became impatient. Although I was fatigued and at my wits end, I never once considered tossing either son into the pile of shattered and scattered humanity.
As I write this I do remember the deep pain that came during those times in my life when I was rejected or overlooked. I also ask God to forgive me for the times I thoughtlessly judged others because of my senseless and worldly standards.
The great news is that God never tosses any of us because of our shattered and scattered lives. He created each one of us and sees us as perfect. We are perfect not because of our flawless choices or spotless character traits, but because God sees perfection in each of us because of the work His Son, Jesus, completed on our behalf. His death on the cross paid the price for our imperfections – our sins and the blood that He shed actually washed each of us clean.
After a while I stopped collecting shells. Suddenly the challenge of finding the perfect shells lost its appeal. God isn’t interested in perfect people, either. He came to encourage the shattered and gather the scattered.
My Prayer for Today:
God, Your name is Love. I am overwhelmed by Your desire to be a part of my life – to gather my broken pieces, to show me Your plan for my life, despite my many imperfections. Pick me up and use me to encourage others in their brokenness. Thank You for Your Word and Your promises that give me hope and confidence.
Are there bits and pieces of your life that are shattered and scattered here and there? In your journal write a letter to God and tell Him about your brokenness. Then, in a prayer, ask Him to show you how much you are valued.
Read the words to the hymn, Take My Life and Let it Be, by Frances Ridley Havergal, and reflect on the many ways God wants to use your life.
If you do not have access to a hymnal (a song book of ancient and classical church songs) you can find the words by going to http://www.stmarysbaldock.fsnet.co.uk/hymns/ and following the instructions to find the words for this hymn and others.
Remember and believe the children’s song, Jesus Loves the Little Children.
The words state that Jesus loves all the children of the world because they are perfect in His sight.
You are a child of God if you have chosen to be in relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
If you are not sure of your relationship with Christ, go to the Proverbs 31 homepage (www.proverbs31.org) and click on “Do You Know Him?” I would love to hear from you if you have taken a step toward a relationship with our Lord, Jesus.
1 Samuel 16:7b, “… I (God) do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart." (GNT)
Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin. “(NCV)
Mark 10:18, “’Why do you call me good?’ Jesus asked him. ‘No one is good except God alone.’” (GNT)
Luke 19:10, “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (NKJ)
2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He (God) has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (NAS)
Intimate Moments with God, with Sharon Jaynes, contributor
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?by Lysa TerKeurst
Originally published Wednesday, 13 April 2005.