This summer, I went for a long walk on the beach with my oldest son, Mack. We were at the tip of Florida where the shells are amazing. The waves are mild so the mollusks don’t bury so deep in the sand. Because of this, they are brought in by the gentle tide and land on the shore. There are beautiful, unique shells all over the place. Ones like I’ve never seen before.
This beach walk was a precious slice of time with no brothers, no ipad, no distractions. Just me and my boy and the sea. And the shells. We started looking on the sand, but then begin to look to the left at the upcoming waves and there they were, these perfect baby conch shells just spinning in the tide. We would race to grab them before the tide took them back out. Many times it did and we would sigh, but then cheer as it brought them back a little further down the beach. It was a game with the ocean, could we catch the shell before he took it away from us? Would he spit it back out?
We caught about 10, always checking to make sure there were no slimey friends inside. We gave a few away on our walk to shell hunters that weren’t as lucky as us. We felt a little prideful at our bounty. Every time we gave one away, the ocean would spit one back to us. I told Mack that is how God works, when you give, He gives back. The statement seemed to bounce off Mack. But maybe he heard it, really heard it. We also talked about marriage. His buddy’s parents are splitting up and I tried to explain a little about marriage. How it takes hard work, Jesus helps, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. He seemed to want to move on to less “boring” topics. Nevertheless, I tried to fill his ears with some wisdom while I had the chance.
It really was the perfect little walk, storm approaching, waves rolling, wind blowing, and my boy. Opportunities like this have to be seized, I am learning. I have to grab on to him before the world does. On this day, the world reminded me of the ocean. It can pulls us in, toss us around and spit us out. Who knows where it will release us. Who knows what’s out there, under the weight of the world, just like the dark water.
I’ve always been afraid of the ocean. It’s an unknown, curious place, full of danger and beauty, death and life. My husband loves to dive in, but I am always cautious, concerned that something might bite my foot off or slip by me and drag me under. The world is like that too I suppose. Some of us dive right in, some of us are more cautious. But it’s an unknown, curious place, full of danger and beauty, death and life. We can easily get pulled under and tossed around. It’s easy to lose our way.
I think on this more these days as Mack approaches 11 and the teen years are just around the corner. Have I prepared him for the beautiful, deadly world? Will the world pull him in and spit him out? Who will win? Will he find beauty or danger? Death or life? Will he be tossed about like these shells who didn’t dig deep, who just floated at the surface?
Sometimes I feel tossed around by the world and all it’s distractions. But I am reminded that Christ is what grounds me, what keeps me steady.
This verse is my prayer is for Mack, and all of us that get tossed about like these beautiful shells: “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (Hebrews 6:19).
I later found out that these shells are called “fighting conch.” I loved this and the imagery it brought. We are all tossed around by this sea of a world, but we must have some fight in us. Fight to stand firm, to fight for our marriages, for our children, for our eyes and minds and souls. Jesus, may we be found faithful, fighting for you and the things you hold dear.