Matthew and I are blessed to celebrate our anniversary this week in Mexico. It’s a place we have come to love over the last twelve or thirteen years. It was Matthew’s parents who first introduced us to the beautiful scenery, tropical climate, and wonderful people. It is through their generosity that we can come back and visit again and again. Every time we come back, I learn more deeply about servanthood as time and again these selfless people live a life we are all called to as believers.
I have always been a beach comber. These trips to the Mexican beaches allow me to get lost in the hunt. I love to search what the ocean spits back up on the land. It’s like she vomits back up that which she no longer wants. Or maybe she is throwing things up there to give me clues about herself.
Okay. Enough emesis references….
There are shells, pieces of drift wood and coral. Things that truly appear other worldly. They are snippets of the life beneath the surface of the sea. A life I cannot know. Time stands still as I search the sand for treasures. The cares of my world begin to slip away as I turn over, pick up, and examine things from a place I will never go.
There are very few shells that make it to be spit up onto the beach completely intact. The surf has been too hard on most, and they are broken, or chipped. It is but a lucky few who make it to the shore in pristine condition. I used to search only for those few, discarding the ones who were not so lucky. But then, one day a few trips back, I realized that there is still value in the chipped, in the broken. They have a much deeper, more poignant story to tell me. They still have value.
God talks to me about these things as I get lost in the hunt. As I let go of the hectic nature of my life and the distractions that pull my attentions away from him, he joins me there where the water meets the sand. As I pick up a broken shell, and turn it over in my hand, I think of the journey it took to get there. I am tempted to throw it back where I found it, and God speaks to my heart, and reminds me of people that are thrown away just as easily. Damaged people. Broken people. People deemed no longer worthy of our time or energy because of the journey they have taken.
But God sees their value. He knows their power to contribute. He knows where he can still take them, in spite of their brokenness. He can do for them, what I cannot do for the broken and chipped treasures I find. He can redeem them. He can restore them. We need to see their potential. We need to see them the way God sees them. We are so quick to throw stones at their hurting places, when we should offer the balm that will sooth and heal. It wasn’t so long ago that we needed that balm, but our memory gets fuzzy on that part sometimes.
Choosing the pristine is easy. Lifting up the broken takes effort. Yet, as believers, it is what we are called to do. We are the church, and we are the hope of the world.