I went for a walk yesterday.
I followed the trail through the woods, down to the beach. And once on the beach, I asked God to enable me to see a small item or two that might be a gift from Him. I have been struggling with so much in my heart during the Lenten season and have had a tough time sensing His presence.
I walked on a quiet coastline – my only companions, the birds scavenging for bits of crab or sand dollars. The outgoing tide had pulled its blanket back to reveal a coastline inlaid with stones, drift wood and other debris left by the ocean.
My eyes scanned the ground…for what I was not sure. A shell? A special stone? And then I caught a glimpse of a twinkle – a reflection of the (rare!) bright morning sunshine. I bent down to find my gift in my hand…a piece of sea glass.
As I continued to walk I found a few more of these treasures, some translucent white and others a shamrock green. As my fingers massaged the pieces and they rolled around in my hand, I asked God to help me understand the gift. Here is what was whispered to me: “Grace upon grace upon grace upon grace…”
I breathed in those words and then I understood. In my hands I held broken pieces of glass and much like the broken pieces of my life, when they are freshly broken they are far more dangerous. They can cut and wound and inflict much pain. Given up to the sea, these glass pieces go on a journey – probably a very tumultuous one. They are rolled and rocked by the waves, carried in and out with the tides. They are tumbled upon rocks and scraped across the rough sand…I am sure (to the glass) the process is a brutal one.
The outcome, though, is quite different. While perfection is not their destiny, their sharp, jagged edges are smoothed by the sand, rocks, and “wave upon wave upon wave…” They adorn the sea shore with spots of color and, most importantly, they can be picked up with no fear of cutting the hands that hold them. Their brokenness remains, but the time traveled in the ocean takes their edges off.
It made me think of my broken places…of how God has taken those pieces on a journey that has sometimes felt severely brutal and yet as each new drowning wave crashes upon me, I hear the words “grace upon grace upon grace….” I cannot deny the existence of this brokenness…it is more real than I wish it was. But I also know that God is smoothing out the razor sharpness and destructive edges. The color of the brokenness remains the same, but in the waves of God’s making, it is tempered and frosted. It is as though those broken places become colored by Grace - they are not so shiny, so vivid, but frosted – more quiet and at peace.
O God of the oceans, rocks, waves and sand…help me trust you with my brokenness. Even when it feels brutal, let me remember that it is Your grace – tempering me, changing me and creating something beautiful out of my broken scraps.