from theDesk of…
by Susan Harfoot, Colonel –
I am not a collector a valuable treasures. I do, however, have a few “favorite things” that bring me joy. I keep some of my treasures in my office and, amazingly, they were all found at the beach. Each treasure has a spiritual lesson.
Dish one contains stones found on the shores of Lake Superior. Flat and smooth, good for “skipping” waves, these stones fit easily into the palm of my hand. Winter ice and snow and the heavy pounding waves have beaten the stones until they are smooth. The lesson of the stones is a reminder that difficult times come to everyone. We may feel beaten and pounded by circumstances, but God takes the hard times and can smooth out hurt and sadness, bringing peace, clam and gentle polishing to the soul.
Dish two contains broken seashells retrieved on my last trip to the beach with my dad. It took great effort and the aid of a walker to take him from his nursing home room to his favorite beach. There we sat and studied a handful of fragmented seashells. As I turned to throw the shells back into the sand, Dad reminded me that even broken shells have beauty. We share stories of broken lives encountered at the Harbor Light Center in Detroit where he served as an officer. He asked me to keep the shells. I placed them in his room at the nursing home, and when he stepped into heaven I brought them home as a reminder of beauty that can come from brokenness.
Dish three contains Dead Sea salt from my last trip to Israel. It reminds me of a pilgrimage to a holy land and a reconnecting with my holy God. Out of a desolate place God can create beauty and restoration for his people.
The last dish contains pieces of sea glass from the north shore of Oahu. This glass has been pummeled, tossed, buffeted by the elements, and flung onto the sand millions of time, only to be swept back out to sea. Eventually the glass was tossed one last time on to the shore to be found by someone like me. The harsh sea often smooths sea glass until it becomes polished—an object of beauty. It is the sea glass that most intrigues me.
I read a book by Dr. Leslie Parrott titled You Matter More Than You Think. Parrott uses the illustration of sea glass and likens it to people who experience extreme circumstances in life. Sea glass will be carried by rough waters from the depths of the ocean to be shoreline where it is thrown by the pounding surf onto the sand.
Some of the glass may have markings of a former life: a beautiful piece of porcelain or china, the glass from a window or container, now it is reduced to tiny bits of trash that once served a purpose. Sea glass has recently become very valuable; it is collected and often made into works of art of jewelry. The “throw away” of the sea has become a treasure. The elements of creation have reformed and made a work of beauty out of the lost.
What a great picture of God, the reforming craftsman, who takes broken lives and transforms them into beauty for his purposes.
I am reminded of the words of God spoken through his prophet Isaiah: “Israel, you are my servant. I made you, shaped you; you are my servant. O Israel, I’ll never forget you. I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings. There is nothing left of your sins. Come back to me, come back. I’ve redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:21).
God takes us with all our rough edges, our jagged corners, our brokenness and shapes us into his treasured possession, a work of art. We reflect godly beauty. He has redeemed us and wiped the slate clean.