One afternoon, during our visit to South Africa, we had an hour break in our schedule, so my husband, Jim, and I walked down to the seashore to relax and look for shells. We saw a man working there, gathering trash from the beach and putting it into a large bag. We approached him, and I asked if he had seen any shells along the water’s edge that morning. No, he hadn’t, was his only reply. We assumed that his answer meant that the shells must be scarce, and it would be difficult to find any during our walk. Yet a short time later, we returned to our hotel with a handful of beautiful shells that we had found simply by looking for them.
How could that man not have seen the lovely shells as he walked the shore for hours searching the sand? He had grown so absorbed with looking for waste and debris that he had stopped taking notice of beautiful things? Was he no longer able to see the shells delicate colors sparkling under a thin veil of sand and water?
It was a small incident. More than likely the man regarded us as tourists, and didn’t want to encourage any more questions from us. Pondering his answer, I saw CHRIST’S lesson for me. I thought of 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the LORD, are changed unto the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.” (KJV) Here, the apostle Paul was explaining how Christians turn to the LORD, and become filled with His Spirit. In this way, they are made in the image of the LORD, and their own lives reflect His glory and beauty.
But even more basically, I believe the LORD is telling us we are all reflections of our inner spirits. All that we see, read, hear, and do will influence what we become. If we constantly take in things that are impure, unhealthy, or unhappy, that will be the image we reflect. It is easy to receive images of violence, chaos, catastrophe, and the latest outrage, or hate-filled crime. We are told that immorality is becoming the new “normal.” The resonance of these things cast a shadow over our lives, and soon everything we think or do has the taint of unholiness. The cost is that our well-being becomes damaged, and we cannot reflect what is good, true, and lovely. Yet, if we desire to control our intake, concern ourselves with what is good and pure, and choose to live in the power of the Almighty, we will become a reflection of those things. In these times, the struggle is difficult. For our own well-being, GOD has commanded us to seek out the good and the righteous:
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise GOD for and be glad about.” Philippians 4:8 (TLB)
Working for and concentrating on the good may not eliminate the bad, but by becoming filled with the LORD’s Spirit, and permeating your mind with His Word, you can be lifted above the things of this world.
Keep looking for “lovely shells” along the beach. Concentrate on the good and beautiful things in your friends, your job, and every area of your life. Search for them, and they will multiply within your gaze. You will see the world with different eyes. Give yourself to the things that are good - and your life will become great.