We all know the well-quoted (yawn) scripture about faith. As I write this, I even have the raspy voice of the memory verse song dude that I used to listen to on Hosanna Music’s CD’s. It’s so old I couldn’t even find a link to it, only a 100 x 100 picture of the cover, which I also remember well. Clearly the memory verse concept works on me.
But I really really really saw it- faith- for what it was on the beach in Kei Mouth, where we visited over Christmas. What played out was a perfect analogy of Hebrews 11:1. Some of the principles I discovered I’ve shared throughout the story. We’re all working on our faith regarding something, right? Believing for something, trying to doubt less. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these things… may they help you in your faith journey.
Krista, my sister-in-law and I were shell collecting at Morgan’s Bay one day. We found some really nice ones, and then we started finding my favourites… urchin shells. They are extremely fragile, yet somehow survive the sea in the first place, and then make it up the beach intact. I kept wondering, as Krista kept spotting yet smaller ones, how small they could really get. I couldn’t imagine them any smaller than what we were discovering, but I thought it would be pretty cool.
A few days later, my aunt who was with us for a few days, showed us her collected shell treasures from their early morning walk on the beach. She is not a professional shell collector; in fact she lives in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which is the figuratively-furthest thing from a beach that you can imagine. She carries no magnifying glass with her, in fact, she wears glasses which would have been misted up with the salty sea air. Yet she had won. She completely whipped our butts. You can’t even imagine how tiny the urchin shells were that she found. And she found quite a few. She also had some which were “our size,” meaning, like the lame ones we found, but now the bar had been set, the goal of a smaller shell proved achievable. They DID exist. I was looking at it. The evidence. The evidence that there was others, waiting for ME to find. (We’re going to ignore how ridiculously competitive I am. I could hardly contain my outrage that I hadn’t found them myself. Moving on.)
Where’s the evidence, in real life things? Unfortunately, not everything is about shells, so we have to find the evidence somewhere.
The evidence is in the Word. His promises to us- they’re the evidence.
They’re as real as Aunty Jill’s tiniest shell. They can be believed, and relied upon. They inspire the faith to take hold of what we can’t see.
His Word gives evidence that He’ll provide. So I need to stop doubting and trust.
Need faith to stop worrying about everything? He said He’d give His all-surpassing peace. The Word is the evidence of the unseen thing.
We were on the same beach a few days later. The beach in question, guardian of the Tiniest Shells ever, is in fact, about a kilometer long. No, not Morgan’s Bay…it is Kei Mouth beach, completely insignificant for its shelly-ness.
Sometimes faith takes you where it’s not so obvious or expected.
Immigrant, dishwasher, homework consultant and cook are all things I never expected to find on the journey of faith to a purpose-filled life. But sometimes the purpose is in those things; the lessons needed are contained therein.
The rock pools are scattered throughout. Heath and the boys played rugby, and I went off to find it. I don’t know where Aunty Jill found them, what rock pool, what direction, how far in, how far out, where to shake it all about. Nothing. Just evidence, a knowing, a faith.
And it took a while. I didn’t find anything for about the first half an hour, which is an eon in shell-collecting terms.
Faith and patience are a necessary combination.
When my thighs gave up from the squats, I would bend at the waist with my bum in the air, but the hamstrings get tired of that, so I would sit every now and again, but that’s very limiting as to how much ground you can cover shuffling along the (ouch) barnacle-covered rocks.
It was a challenge at times. Between my quad muscles and my hamstrings, I could have given up. And the time I nearly pooped my swimming costume when a friendly dog thrust his wet nose under the brim of my hat into my eye whilst I was squatting down. I got such a fright, I nearly landed backwards and drowned in the 10cm deep rock pool. But I did not waver. The knowing is what was probably the most overwhelming thing to me.
I did not doubt once, because I was so sure having SEEN it. Oh, I so want to have that same knowing when it comes to the things of God.
And I found it. My tiniest urchin shell. And I found one more. Two. Perfect, beautiful and so, so tiny. They’re a wonder.
The shell is amazing. The size, colouring, detail and wonder of it all give glory to its Creator. The picture below is one that gives a comparison to the others that we had found before.
It’s a lame photo I know, and I had planned to do another, so left the two babies on top of a glass jar on a shelf. Ethan took the jar down to see it’s cork lid yesterday (the child collects corks) unaware that the shells were on top, and the urchins are now missing. Turns out, it’s easier looking for urchins in rock pools than in laundry baskets, dusty corners and tile grouting. I guess I’ll need some more beach time, and some more faith learning. I know they’re out there…
What a lesson!
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,
You can read another (completely unrelated) story about an urchin here.