If you’ll forgive me for not boring you with the how’s and why’s that my husband, daughter and I are in Florida, I’ll get right to one of the most precious revelations the Lord has ever blessed me with. Though it was such a tender and personal exchange, I share it in hopes it will encourage someone.
A few days ago, I laid in an unfamiliar bed, in the middle of the afternoon, crying tears of utter exhaustion, sorrow, and desperation. The doctors say the pain will not get better unless I sleep, but sleep is sometimes impossible from the pain. I am not sure what true delirium looks like, but I had to be there…or close to it. My heart echoed a request I’ve asked God repeatedly, “Please Lord, help me learn everything I possibly can from this trial. Every tiny ounce, fragment, sliver or moment, may nothing be wasted.” I don’t trust myself to glean it all because so much of me wants it over.
But as numerous as the tears that wet my pillow, I saw in my mind’s eye numerous people sitting down and eating in a lush, green field. Then I heard the Lord’s instructions to the disciples from John 6:12 “gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost,” and my heart was instantly at peace. I had assurance that the Lord would gather the very fragments of this trial for me so that nothing would be lost.
Yesterday, I woke up to thick clouds blocking an oceanic sunrise, but I wanted to walk the beach and look for treasure. I love shells, sand dollars and sea glass. Our hostesses have jars full of them and I envisioned giant jars to display my own.
I scoured the shores like one of those metal detector things some people use at the beach. I was so intense on my hunt that a man stopped me and asked what I was searching so hard for. The current and waves are extremely rough where we are staying and it would be a miracle to find a sand dollar or pretty shell intact. Then I saw it. A gorgeous sand dollar emerged as the tide water rolled out. I rushed over and plucked from the sand…a triangular fragment of what must’ve been a very large sand dollar. Cue the music for disappointment.
As I tossed it aside, the Lord quickly spoke to my heart, “Go pick that back up. I gave you a treasure.” I stared at the gray remnant that didn’t even fill my palm and the familiar, soft voice came to my thoughts again, “go up and look along the seaweed and trash that the high tide left along the shore.” No one walked the beach along that muck and mire. It even had an unpleasant odor. But I obeyed.
As I walked where no footprints lie, scattered among the debris were fragments of gorgeous shells and broken shards of large conch shells that could amplify the ocean’s roar. Then the Lord spoke to me so clearly, “Shannon, you toss aside the broken and incomplete and remnants, in hopes to obtain the whole and beautiful, attractive and valuable. But I do not see as you do. The broken are beautiful to Me. The defaced, exposed, shattered, fractured and worn pull at My heart and draw me close. Remember, I gather the fragments that remain so that nothing will be lost? It’s not just about the lessons in your trials; it is about you. It’s about all of My people that have been tossed by hard currents, tumultuous waves and trials, circumstances that have crashed down and broken them. Fractured hearts. Souls that are worn thin. I see those who feel as though they are mere fragments from their years…and I call all of you My treasure. Would you like to walk where no one walks and gather what no one gathers? You will find Me there.”
I stood still, stunned by His love. Touched deep by the tenderness of Jesus that calls my unattractive, broken self a “treasure” to His heart. Amazed by His grace that loves to dwell amidst what the world, and sometimes the church, easily discards, overlooks, and sees no value in. And then I looked down and saw this tiny, little chiseled shell and photographed it. What kind of blows and tossings could sculpt a perfect heart? When I tried to pick it up, it shattered in pieces. The Lord knows that we are not good care-takers of others hearts. Especially when a person has become so frail. I should’ve just observed and admired rather than gather for myself. The Lord’s words continued…as I will share in a future post.
But for today…no matter where you live or walk, remember that the Lord sees you…and His lens is not as the worlds. “…For they will draw out of the abundance of the seas, And the hidden treasures of the sand.” Deut.33:19b