My lovely wife and I have been blessed to be married for 27 years. We celebrated this year with a little trip. I am pretty cheap, and always search for the best deals. That meant that this year we traveled to a new place – Sanibel Island, Florida. It is a beautiful, warm, relaxed place to spend a week.
It turns out, Sanibel Island is one of the top “shelling” locations in the world. People travel there from all over the globe due to it’s warm climate, relaxed feel, and the ability to just walk along the beach and pick up gorgeous shells as they wash up before your eyes.
While we were there, we spent a few hours one day looking for shells and would just walk up to huge piles of shells waiting to be sorted through! We would find colorful shells, shells shaped different than the others, or shells that just “drew” us in with their uniqueness. The more you look, the more choosy you become. There are so many it can boggle the mind.
The next day we returned to the beach, but this time we kept walking further from the other folks there at the beach. As we walked, we saw fewer people. What we also noticed was the shells began to change. There was a lot of wind, and some larger waves than the day before. There were fewer, larger shells. All of a sudden, the shells we could find started to change. Now they were bigger, and better, and truly awesome!
We had walked so far that there were no other people around. We were by ourselves, picking up more shells than we could actually keep. We had to start making choices… and we found some great ones! But, the further we went the more we found. We started giving them to other people and telling them how to find the big ones. It was a blast.
I couldn’t help but think about the comparison to our relationship with God. We start out with a crowd. There are many there and we are looking for parking, wondering if others have beat us there to the best places and already ahead of us in searching for the best “stuff”. We readily see things as competitive as human beings. It motivates us and propels us forward.
But soon, we realize that we are all “sorting” through the same stuff. We see that everyone around us is finding the same kinds of things that we have, and it loses it’s luster. What seemed “awesome” a few days ago seems unfulfilling. We have to put our walking shoes on and keep moving further…
The truth is this – if we want to find bigger and better we have to look where it is harder to go and where the crowds start to “thin out”. Seeking a relationship with God should be the quest of our lives. But, you can’t seek Him and remain in a growing state just by showing up to church – you have to be willing to go further!
If you want some incredibly beautiful shells, you can also just go to a shop where they sell them. They will be more than happy to sell you all kinds of shells. What you will miss however is the search, the hunt, the walking and talking and comparing that all goes with looking for yourself. And no purchased shell can compare to the prize you find as you look for yourself.
This is the same in our relationship to God. We have to be willing to look, to pray, to read and study and meditate on His word, making His thoughts our thoughts. You can’t just go buy a book, or imagine that by listening to music, or watching a movie, or occasionally talking about spiritual things that you will be rewarded as though you were “seeking God with all your heart” – Jeremiah 29:13. But, it truly takes ALL of our heart. Many of us are only willing to give little pieces at a time – we sort of get to the beach and sit with the others in a crowd. It can leave us feeling disappointed and hoping that there could be more for us to hold onto in our faith – wishing that there was more than we can find available in a worship service or Bible class.
If we want to grow, to learn, to feel the excitement grow in us again, we are going to have to go further, look where few are willing to tread and commit to a deeper relationship with God.
Seeking God is not something we ever finish. But, it also never stops being rewarding!
Make serious steps to seek Him more this week.