By Melissa McLaughlin
There we were on our mini getaway. The ocean waves rolling in thunderous glory. The sunlight sparkling on the waves. The salty air wisping around us in playful windy puffs.
It was our long awaited fall visit to the beach. Well after the seasonal vacation crowds were gone, but while the warmth of the water lingered with summertime memories and the air still wafted with scents of boardwalk favorites. Popcorn, pizza and fresh baked cinnamon donuts.
We walked along the edge of the shore, amazed at God’s grandeur, in awe of His majestic beauty as we viewed the vastness of the ocean, stretching farther than the eye could see. Such sovereign power and strength on full display. We marveled at God’s greatness.
Like so many others, we love to collect shells and small stones as a remembrance of our annual beach visit. But unlike other trips, this time we could only find broken shells. Almost whole. Almost lovely. Almost a perfect. But not quite.
This morning as we strolled, our eyes scanning the wet sand, we noticed a family with two young children on a passionate shell hunt. Their two little voices called out over and over that there were no shells to be found.
My husband moved on ahead while I paused to let the ocean waves splash onto my feet. A gentle, refreshing treat. As I caught up to him, he reached out his hand with a wonderful surprise… a shell! A whole, unbroken shell in mint condition! I couldn’t believe my eyes! For days now, all we had seen was shattered shell remnants. But here was the sunken treasure we had searched for, an intact, undamaged, flawless shell!
I cheered with glee and we smiled together, overjoyed at this little blessing. In all honesty, my first thought was to bring this rare prize home to add to our collection. So my heart took a soft turn when my husband mentioned, “I was just praying that I could find another unbroken shell, so I could give one to each of the children we just passed.”
My heart melted for him. Such a small kindness. Such a tiny act of thoughtfulness. Such a gesture of gentle grace. An adult, completely unknown to these children, saw them. And wanted to give them a blessing.
I whispered a prayer along with him and at that very moment I immediately spotted a whole shell. We shouted together with excitement! A second unbroken seashell! Though we had walked miles through scattered pieces of tattered shells, God directed our gaze to a second gift.
We both thanked God. He saw us. He saw the children. And He allowed us to be part of His blessing for them.
My husband walked back to the area where the family was playing. He set the two shells in the sand near them while they were looking off in another direction. He called to them to come and see. The oldest child ran over and picked up the two shells my husband had just placed there. He shouted in triumphant joy as he handed one to his younger sister!
We smiled from the inside out. For we knew… that God knew… my husband had prayed to be a blessing. God answered that prayer and used my husband to bring a simple delight to two children on the beach that day. Two children he never met before and will never see again.
But now, I carry a memory that is far more beautiful than any perfectly formed seashell. Instead, I brought home a precious memory of my husband, asking God to use him in a small way, so that two small children could carry home a memory of our big God’s lovely world.
I believe with all my heart, that God led us to walk past the family with two small children. God heard the two small prayers of our hearts and God led us to two small shells.
Sometimes we pray for the big things. For loved ones to give their lives to Christ. For family members to be healed. For world leaders to seek the wisdom of God for their decisions. For healing of deep wounds of the past. God indeed answers these big prayers, for surely someone prayed for each one of us, bringing us to this very moment in time.
But sometimes we pray for the little things. No sin is too great, no problem is too small. God cares for the little things, because in some ways, all things are little things to God.
May we pray to be used by God. Whether it’s for the big things or the little things. For God sees the little things, too.
Matthew 19:13-14 – Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.