On a windy January day long ago, I walked along the Atlantic Ocean’s shore. Impressed by the expanse, I breathed in the cold, salty air. Seashells sat. I always look for what my son once called a “beauty keep,” something precious. I saw one. Impressed by the Lord, I bent down and picked it up, and held it in my mittened hand. It had packed sand in it, along with a piece of that grass which grows in the dunes, the part with the woven seeds. The shell fit nicely in my hand. There in the top of the shell, a little, round hole let in a small ray of sunlight onto the miniscule cavern. I continued walking, carrying this unique ecosystem, wondering what it meant. I knew it was special.
When I was in middle school, at Broadview Junior High in Danbury, Connecticut, back in the nineteen seventies, my English teacher, Mr. Toscano, taught me symbolism. I have loved it ever since. I knew this shore, shell, sand, seed, and sunlight symbolized something, so I pondered.
In Genesis 22:17, God promised to Abraham, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.” I knew each grain of sand along that beach represented one of Abraham’s descendants.
When I was in high school, Nonnewaug High School, in Woodbury, Connecticut, my trigonometry teacher, Mr. Dorsett, asked me if I was going to be a teacher.
“No way,” I blurted out.
He asked me why, assuming “they don’t get paid enough” would be my answer.
“You can really mess a kid up,” I said. “I don’t want that kind of responsibility.”
I felt like I had been messed up by a few teachers in my time. He was visibly surprised by my response. In a strange way, I think it honored him. I did not yet know Christ, but He knew me.
Although no one was more surprised than I, when God called me into the classroom at Cary Christian, I made a deal. I said I’d be the flesh and blood in the room but I wasn’t going in there without Him! He was the Teacher; I was just the facilitator. Over these twelve years He faithfully kept His end of the deal; I failed sometimes. But again, He taught me through my failures. His yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). The entire experience enriched me. Thank you for the privilege.
So, do you know what the shell represents…the sand…the seed…and the sunlight? God is good. He let me be a sympathizing teacher, caring for the souls in the shell, you, my students. Shining the light of Christ, He nourished our hearts with His Word, the Bread of Life. When He called me into the classroom, I obediently leapt with faith for I had seen and held the “beauty keep.” You are precious! I love you.