Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, August 22

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
—Genesis 1:31a

We've all held sea-shells in our hands. They're beautiful testimonials to God's creation, and hunting for them along the shore is one of my favorite things to do.  

But recently I was struck by a conversation on the beach. We were walking along, and there were tons of shells around us. In some areas you could have used a shovel to bag them. White, khaki, gray, and black with ribs, cracks, and kelp as decoration, they were an incredible assortment of sizes, shapes, and hues. But the person in front of me kept saying, "Where are all the pretty shells? Why can't I find one of the beautiful ones? I want a large, perfect one with lots of color."  

I bit my tongue. I wanted to point out how beautiful all the shells were—how intricate, amazing and suitable each was to its purpose. But biting my tongue was the better course of action. I definitely didn't want to launch into a sermon; there's nothing like being a self-righteous surfer-priest.  

As I walked past him, farther and farther down the beach, I kept thinking the same thing: he had missed God. Many of us spend our lives looking for the perfect, all-questions-answered, holy-of-holies God. We want the most amazing burning bush, complete with a nice deep James Earl Jones voice billowing from within it. But instead, we get thousands of shells—broken, sloughed off shells, ready for recycling, for use by another generation of creatures.  

Isn't that better? Don't we want that God? Can't we see that God? It's time to hold another broken sea-shell in your hands.    

God beyond my understanding, show me your face in all the broken shells of life, and help me celebrate life's holy things with you. Amen.

The Signposts for August are written by Michael Sullivan and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.