I know we aren’t supposed to brag but I’m not good at many things. I didn’t make the cheerleading team in sixth grade. I remember the awkwardness of getting picked near last for teams in P.E. class. I didn’t even make grade school chorus – and everyone made the chorus. Everyone, that is, except for me and a boy going through early adolescence whose voice cracked mid-syllable like a banjo with a broken string. Eventually, his voice became smooth and steady while mine remains a unique mix of southern, nasally, whine. It’s as if I speak my own dialect and apparently it should not be put to music. As such, I feel like I get special dispensation when it comes to boasting. After all, I feel like God would want me to focus on my strengths after so many obviously traumatic childhood experiences.
All that is to say, I am really good at finding shark’s teeth. (I know I probably should have made sure you were sitting down for that.) Last time I went to the beach I found 38 shark teeth in less than two hours. Since I am a self-proclaimed-shark-tooth-finding expert, I feel obligated to teach others several important lessons from my experiences:
- There are treasures everywhere if you are only patient enough to look. Slow down and pay attention to the gifts in your life. I bet if you look close enough you will find way more than 38.
- Life is messy, but it’s also full of miracles. Notice them. Like the debris of crushed shells on the beach, if we aren’t careful then all we will see are the broken pieces of our lives. We can never lose sight of the way God redeems our suffering often surprising us with unexpected gifts of awe.
Shark teeth are sharp but they are also shiny. Life can be pointy. People can be mean. We can be misunderstood. All of that hurts. Yet, we know life is good too. We know that when we serve others and imitate God’s love, we shine in a way that makes us stand out as disciples of Christ. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind,” (John 1:4). Be the light to others.
- Our faith is fierce. Whenever I find a shark’s tooth, I can’t help but rub my finger along its sharp-edge point. I shiver imagining the power of it piercing my skin with the full force of a shark bite. When our hearts have been pierced with God’s love, our faith gives us incredible strength to endure life’s biggest challenges. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Romans 10:13). If you have ever seen the movie Jaws you know that verse is worth remembering.
- Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned from my shark’s teeth hunting prowess has nothing to do with finding shark teeth. Instead, it’s a reminder to look up. It’s easy to get too focused on our goals, even the most worthwhile ones, that we sometimes forget to acknowledge the one who makes everything possible. When I remember to look up after my eyes have crossed and my neck has bent crooked from looking for triangular-shaped treasures, I am reminded that the real treasure is in front of me. I see the glorious wonder of the ocean with clear eyes. Its stretch into eternity reminds me of how big God is and how bottomless are his love and mercy. In a perfect moment of grace, I forget the self-congratulations of my shark teeth hunt. Instead, I stare in silence not needing a voice to sing his praises.
Wishing you many happy surprises wherever your search takes you. ~ love, Lara