We walk along this beach, all dusted with fragments of shells. Halves of clams, tops of spikey conchs and bits of angel wings wash over our feet as we search for treasures, for whole shells not yet crushed by the pounding surf. I see the perfect whirl of the discarded shell of a sea snail half buried in the sand and kneel down to collect it only to discover that the bottom half is missing, that this perfect whirling shell is only a fragment of a treasure.
The fragment is beautiful with all its symmetrical spinning and bands of color, but I long to see it in its wholeness, in the fullness of its glory. Eyes filled with wonder, my daughter gazes upon the shell in awe, but like her mother, she is less than satisfied with the fragment, feels the same ache, the deep-down longing to find that which is whole. That is rare on this beach that I grew up combing because the power of the surf tends to spit out mostly fragments, these tiny pieces of God’s glory.
But when we finally stumble across one in it’s completeness, the joy bubbles up out of that deep longing, out of that time of waiting and seeking. The whole shell would not feel as much like treasure apart from the previous longing to see it in its’ fullness.
The light pouring down reflects off the shell fragments as the water gently laps back and forth over them, them speaking of God’s glory in all their shiny whirls and color bands. And I begin to hear Paul’s words to the Corinthians pour down like light.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
I look around at all these broken parts of my life, and how I long to see God face to face, to fully know him, to not just see him in part. And I will spend this lifetime longing to know Him in all His fullness, all the while delighting in the fragments I discover, fully trusting that He sees all, knows me fully even though here on this earth, I will never fully know Him. But to live life fully here is knowing that I am fully known, that even though I now see a poor reflection of who my savior is, one day I shall know fully, will see the treasure in it’s wholeness.
Virginia takes these halves of shells, the ones with the holes in the end, all worn through by the grinding of the sand, and then strings them up on necklaces and binds them around her neck, fragments of treasure found while searching for the whole. Solomon says to bind Gods commands around my neck, to write mercy and faithfulness on the tablets of my heart. So I remember the words etched on the stone tablets of Moses, and I give thanks for God’s mercy in spite of how short I fall in keeping those tablet words. And I bind that mercy around my neck, string up the wholeness of his mercy that I find hidden in these earthly fragments. These beautiful glimpses of Gods’ glory, causing me to long for the day when I shall see Him face to face, when He returns for his beloved bride. The long awaited consummation of the bride and the lamb. The searching and seeking and building up to that unfathomable day. The day when I shall no longer know in part and will no longer see but a poor reflection in the mirror.
Would you cause me to long for that day more than anything else on this earth? Would the words of this song ring true in my life?
“Lord, I want to yearn for You.
I want to burn with passion.
And only you.”
Let these fragments, these glimpses of glory in the midst of this broken life cause me to yearn for you, cause me to burn with passion over you and only you.