When my family and I go to the ocean, I’m the one walking up and down the beach and in the shallow water searching for the perfect seashell. It has always fascinated me how we find hundreds, even thousands, of shell pieces, but every now and then, you can find a perfectly intact, beautiful shell. A real treasure.
I also love the way our Creator made it possible to find different seashells at different beaches. You can find starfish on some beaches during certain seasons, conch shells on other coastlines, and sometimes even beautiful sand dollars in other areas!
I recently visited the Gulf and quickly noticed when walking in the very shallow surf, I could see through the crystal clear water little conch shells and spindle-like shells rolling along the bottom. I collected dozens! However, on my next beach trip to the southeastern coastline I could not find shells the same way. The water wasn’t as clear and the shells on this beach were completely different! I watched other people slowly walking the beach and picking up treasures as they strolled and discovered they were collecting sharks’ teeth.
I’ve never been successful at finding shark’s teeth. It has always seemed impossible to distinguish a real tooth from the hundreds of little black pieces of shell and rock found along these beaches. One nice beachcomber spent some time teaching me how to look for the way a shark’s tooth shines in the sunlight and then also how to look for the particular angles and shape of a shark’s tooth. It took about two hours to train my eyes to discern the features, but by the end of the day I had found fourteen sharks’ teeth.
As I looked, it really made me think through this process of training my eyes. I thought of times in my life as a parent, as a leader in the church, and in my ministry to others that I wish my eyes had been better trained. I began to dialogue with the Lord and asking Him to train my eyes.
I asked Him to train my eyes to see the needs of my children, spouse, and loved ones. To show me how to discern their true needs and how I can help meet those needs. To train my eyes to see red flags in their lives and when and how to step in and help them navigate through rough waters.
I began asking the Lord to train my eyes to see patterns in people’s lives that may be leading them toward destruction or heartache. And then how to lovingly communicate what they could avoid if they went a different way. I asked Him to train my eyes to see the sin in my own life, but also the daily treasures that many times I overlook because I’m simply focused on the wrong thing.
There are times in our lives when we can simply look at the big beautiful picture of what is going on around us and appreciate the beauty of it all. Honestly though, so many times instead of looking at the scenery of the expanse of the ocean, instead I’m focused on my feet and trying to avoid stepping on the sharp shells and broken pieces that I’m walking through. What would my week look like if instead of trying to step around the broken pieces I ask Him to help me find the treasure. I was overlooking these tiny sharks’ teeth as I walked until I recognized them for what they were and trained my eyes to find them. In the same way, I must certainly be missing treasures He has for me every day. Now I’ve asked Him to daily train my eyes, and I’m expecting to find treasure every step of the way!