Day three. By now we’ve established a pattern. By “we” I mean God and myself. We’ve established a pattern where I walk by the shore, pour out my heart, and He speaks to my soul and confirms that He is there with an olive shell.
I now wake with excited anticipation of our conversations and quiet time. I’ve kept the 4 olive shells that I’ve found to take home and place in a visible space where I can be frequently reminded of these intimate promise-filled communions. So I set out for another morning of authenticity and honest exchanges.
As I’m walking this morning I am simply questioning My Father why there has been such a time of barrenness, disillusionment, and perceived uselessness in my life. I am asking where I have been in His plans the last few years. Querying whether He continues to have a plan that involves me caressing the souls of others with song or challenging the hearts and minds of teams and leaders. All the while I’m inquiring of Him, the lyrics from a recent song from Curt Coffield were playing in my mind:
Am I unloveable? Am I unforgiveable?
Am I a candidate for grace? Can mercy be new for me again?
Am I on the right track? Will Your words still be a light unto my path?
Will You ever speak through me again? Are You disgusted with what I’ve been?
Can you put me back together……………….. put me back together again?
The tides were receding and I came upon one of those frequent patches of shell pieces and debris. I immediately spotted an olive shell and bent to pick it up. Next to it was another… and then another. I had no bag or bucket for collecting shells so I was holding them scooped in the top of my bathing suit. Everywhere I looked there were olive shells. I picked up so many that I was having to wrap one arm underneath to hold them all. Of course, I frequently had to pause a moment and wipe the tears from my eyes so that I could see and gather them all. Some were old, aged by the sea. Others were new, with all of their colors and patterns fully visible.
I walked back to the room carrying a load of shells cradled in both arms and wrapped in cloth. The strange looks that I received were frequent, but they would not deter my path or my purpose. I laid the shells out on a paper towel and began to count. 1 short of 45.
Later, His voice resonated in my heart: “Do you realize how many olive shells you picked up?”
“One for each year of your life.”
In my fascination with finding so many, the significance of the number hadn’t occurred to me.
“I have held you, like you held them, every day of your life.”
I held and protected those olive shells, wrapped tightly against me, as I stumbled over uneven dunes and fiery foot-scorching sand. I was determined not to drop or lose any of them. He has done the same for me. He’s been determined that I won’t be lost, even as I journeyed through hills and valleys, trials of fire, and scorching internal deserts.
Although there have been times I may not have sensed His protection, He has watched over and guarded me. Every single day of my life. I have 44 more olive shells as a reminder.