Shell Searching Not long ago, while walking along the beach, I found a beautiful shell. It was perfect to my eye in color and symmetry. I placed it in my pocket and continued down the beach. As I made my way further along, I noticed many more shells which I stopped to examine. These shells I found to be flawed with various imperfections such as chips and holes. I threw them over my shoulder and back into the surf……
As I continued down the beach, I noticed another shell seemingly full of imperfections. Yet, as if I had been given new eyes to see, this shell struck me as beautiful. It had a large hole in the middle and was worn ragged along the edges. The end of the shell was missing altogether. It was apparent to me that this shell had been beaten and tossed by the power of the ocean and drug along the bottom by many terrible storms before being washed up on the shore. Its very survival, though in a battered state, seemed to render it beautiful.
In retrospect I realized something about my quest for perfect shells. Shells, like people are judged by their external appearances. When weexamine people, we often judge them by their lack of imperfections. The perfect silhouette of a runway model, the striking smile of the cover girl, the immaculately dressed eecutive- all these we examine and judge to be good. Like beautiful shells, we judge them worthy and place in our pocket to keep. Others- the homeless in their threadbare garments, the elderly woman in the nursing home in her housecoat, the toothless gentleman who pours our coffee at the diner in the morning- these are imperfect and therefore cast aside unnoticed from our vista.
Could it be that the very people we cast aside like imperfect shells are the ones that are most needed to show us true beauty in this world? Oh that we might be given eyes to see the beauty of proven character! What a gift to be able to see the beauty of perseverance, the value of patience, the valor of submission, the radiance of longsuffering. God in His endless love and grace, has shown us perfection in the battered shells washed ashore at our feet. Our task is to see them for what they really are. Our job is to recognize their true beauty. Our calling is to deem them worthy and carry them home.