God’s Gifts In Abundance
Within minutes of arriving at our rented beach condo on Longboat Key in October 2008, my seven-year-old, Kate, and I made our way to the shore to find the surf rough and choppy from the effects of “Hurricane Gustav” passing through the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of miles away. We weren’t going to let the windy shore get in our way of hunting for shells. As we strolled, we found mostly broken pieces of sand dollars, olives and scallops. We were also pleasantly surprised to find many fragmented pieces of the coveted “purple-striped sea urchins” we had always wanted. We quickly grabbed any pieces of these urchin shells that lay in our path, imagining how beautiful they must have looked intact. I watched my little girl cheerfully collect the pieces of broken sea urchins and listened to her plans for them. “Mom, when we get back to the condo, I’m going to arrange them on a paper plate like a puzzle and make a whole one out of these. Won’t that look pretty?”
As we headed back to the condo, I mentioned to Kate the remote possibility of actually finding one intact during our week stay. “Kate, we just may be lucky enough to actually find an unbroken one. I mean – look at all the broken pieces you have found. Since we are seeing the evidence of so many sea urchins, just maybe we’ll come across one intact.” I also explained it would be rare, as we have never (in our 10 years of vacations there) ever found one.
She looked at the pieces she held in her tiny hands recognizing their fragile eggshell texture. It was easy to understand how these beautiful sea urchins could easily get crushed by the rough waves and then roll up on the shelly shores to the sandy banks we stood on. We had never seen one make it to the shore intact. As Kate and I strolled along the beach, we talked some more and she decided to make her request known to God. My heart melted hearing Kate’s request, “Lord, all of Your shells are so pretty. But these purple sea urchins are the best. I would be so happy to have just one for my shell collection. If You can, will you give me just one? Amen!”
When we got back to the condo, Kate arranged her collection of “bits and pieces” on a paper plate for her daddy, her big brother, and grandparents to see. She was so proud of them. As everyone “oohed” and “aahed” over her display, I privately mentioned an idea to my husband. I suggested that by the end of the week, we could stop by a local shell shop and purchase a purple-striped sea urchin shell that we had seen there before and then strategically place it on the shore for Kate to “find.” We both snickered with delight at our great idea!
Two days later, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day. The storm had long passed. The water was calm and clear. With blue skies, a gentle breeze and the sounds of sea gulls around us, it was the kind of day that brought us back year after year to Longboat Key. Following our breakfast, Kate and I headed out for our routine morning stroll. As the sun kissed us good morning, we found our way to the shore and what we saw was unbelievable! Our jaws dropped in disbelief, as our eyes witnessed a sight to behold. It was like manna from heaven! Before us lay hundreds and hundreds of purple-striped sea urchin shells scattered along the shore! It was like nothing I had ever seen or imagined. Sea urchin shells were everywhere! It was as if God said to Kate, “They’re all for you, my precious little girl!” Kate and I were screaming and squealing with delight in the awesomeness of God hearing her request. As we danced and praised His Name for everyone to hear, we eagerly filled our arms with as many of the beautiful treasures as we could carry.
It was amazing! And to think I was about to go buy one from the local shell shop to bless my little girl. God made it very clear that day that He loves my little girl more than I could ever imagine. He created her, is familiar with all her ways, and He knows the desires of her heart. Only a God like ours lavishes love like that.
In my amazement, I wondered why would God give us so many? We simply asked for one and yet He gave us more than we could ever have dreamed of. Some may say it was a freak natural phenomenon that stirred up the sea causing this bountiful load. I believe my little girl received these sea urchins because God loves His children and loves showing off His splendor and glory. Being the Father of all fathers, He loves showering blessings on His children.
These sea urchin shells remind me of the desires we each carry in our hearts. We tend to ask for so little from God, when in fact He wants us to ASK for more because He wants to GIVE us more.