Broken Shells

  • Oct. 19, 2017
  • #9254

God is not look for human perfection. His eyes are on those who are broken and rejected.


Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a beautiful hymn and an even more beautiful story.

Abide with me, fast flows the eventide
When darkness deepens Lord with me abide.
When others helpers fail, and comforts flee
Help of the helpless O abide with me.

I love that last line: help of the helpless. Because it is so like God to pour out His grace not on the bright and powerful, the strong and the capable, the winsome and the beautiful. He does that, but Jesus, the Lord of grace, pours out His enabling power on the broken, the discarded, the unlovely and the not-so-beautiful. This lesson was driven home to my friend Shannon Gallatin, who deals daily with intractable pain. She wrote to me, saying, “Joni, the Lord gave me a strong word while I was very sick and could barely walk several years ago. My husband and I were in Florida, and I tried to spend the few steps I could, to pick up beautiful shells and sand dollars on the beach where we were staying for a week with friends. Each time I would pick up something colorful, I would examine it for any imperfections, and if I found them, I would toss it aside when I saw they were fragments. I was on a hunt for the whole, but just then, God gave me a strong impression. It penetrated my thoughts as I tossed aside another broken beauty. The impression came saying, Pick that up, Shannon. I gave you a treasure. I was stunned stiff. His words came so gentle, saying to me, ‘Shannon you are easily drawn to the whole and attractive, but I did not come for the whole, I want you to walk along the shoreline where the flies buzz over rotting sea weed, crab corpses, and broken pieces. Go where no footprints are in the sand. You will find me among the broken, the rejected, and the dead. That's where I've called you to walk.’"
Shannon and Joni

Right there, Shannon describes, in a poignant way,the tendency of God to be found among broken and damaged things or I should say, people. He came not to revive the healthy, but the sick, the wounded, and especially the spiritually dead. When we hunt for beautiful shells on the beach, we normally never go where the flies are buzzing over rotting seaweed, where there are fragments of dead crabs, where it’s even—dare I say—smelly. But that is where God goes.

And maybe that’s where we go or perhaps need to go. Maybe we are one of those broken and discarded. If so, if you are one of the helpless, please know you have a helper, a tender and gracious helper in the Lord of grace. Because the fullness of God's power in all its depth and scope is displayed only through human brokenness; people who have nowhere else to turn but to Jesus Christ. And that is a beautiful situation in which to be. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God's hand, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” It’s what my friend Shannon is doing every day with her intractable pain. And every time she walks along the beach and looks for shells, she doesn’t look for the perfect ones; she looks where God looks, for the broken ones.

Music: Abide with Me by Henry Francis Lyte, Public Domain

 © Joni and Friends


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