I found my first starfish last week.
Note: In writing this post, I discovered that it is not scientifically accurate to call them starfish. The correct name is sea star.
This is cutely ironic, because that is what my two daughters call each other instead of sister. They pronounce it sees-tar.
However, I will probably use the term starfish because it sounded better in the title and it goes along with the poem. 😂
ORIGINAL STORY BY: LOREN EISLEY
Whenever I am near a beach, it’s almost an obsession to be staring at the waves just before the sun rises.
It’s as if the world stands still, except for the water, as the surrounding silence creates a bubble around me, perfect for meeting with the Lord.
There’s just something about standing before the massive expanse of water that makes me feel closer to heaven.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land “earth,” and the gathering of the water he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10
I close my eyes and feebly try to picture what that looked like.
The Spirit moving over the surface of the waters.
A voice then speaks, “Let there be light.”
I could sit by the water forever.
Of course, it’s easier in January when my fair, freckled skin isn’t subjected to the summer sun, but I’m a year-round beach lover.
So, I have to be careful when spending hours doing my other favorite past-time…looking for treasure.
Not with a metal detector, but with my aging eyes that need progressive lenses.
Not looking for gold or silver, but:
An intact sand dollar.
The ever-elusive starfish.
I found my first sand dollar in November 2017, the same year I started this blog. I found my second one the following summer.
Two sand dollars in 44 years.
I guess if I was brave enough to go past a sand bar and snorkle, then I could find more, before the waves crash and break them to pieces.
So, that’s not going to happen. I will get in the water, but “things” live in the great expanse, and the kind that sting seem to be attracted to my freckles.
Last weekend, in a spur of the moment trip to help my husband after surgery, I found myself on Florida’s emerald coast for less than 48 hours.
I left the hotel and drove to the beach by 5:30 am.
It was unlike any morning at the beach I’ve ever had.
You could not see anything because of the fog. Even though it was almost daybreak, I had to use a flashlight to scan the perfect, white sand that literally melted into a white sky.
With my Bible reading complete, I turned on my beach praise playlist and disappeared into the fog.
I will freely admit that it was a little scary not being able to see my surroundings. The second morning was worse and I retreated to my car and coffee until it was brighter on the beach.
It’s kind of silly, I know, but I’ve had a recurring dream for years about a large wave about to crash over me…like a scene from the movie, Deep Impact.
(1998, Deep Impact)
(2020, Miramar Beach)
The sun never appeared on my side of the clouds and the fog didn’t burn away for two days.
I couldn’t see if a big wave was coming and I couldn’t see down either end of the beach.
So, I attached my keys to the emergency glow stick/flashlight/whistle lanyard that I bought for my family to use during severe weather events.
Yes, I walked with this around my neck. In hindsight, the fog was so thick I don’t think even David Hasselhoff could have seen my emergency, flashing whistle, but it made me feel better.
Because of the blank canvas before me, it became easy to see dark shapes on the sand.
As I got closer, I found about a dozen sea slugs. Or whatever they were. Ick. Giant snails with no shell.
Then, in the distance of my line of sight, I think I actually gasped when I saw this:
My one regret is not moving that stick that gives the starfish an extra point, but I was so excited, I took the photo before an unseen wave possibly swept it back out to sea.
Here were my thoughts in the next thirty seconds:
- Can I take this home?
- Will it dry out like Patrick did with Sponge Bob? (Btw, I hate that show.)
- Wait, is it still alive??
- I have to throw it back. I have a starfish keychain and the starfish poem hanging in my office. I can be just like that! I’ll make a difference for this one, which is like my new goal in ministry.
- Hmmm, do starfish sting?
- What if I’m on some live beach cam?
- How can I pick it up?
- It’s just a poem. I don’t really have to save a starfish.
- It’s a new year though. This is symbolic. You find your first starfish within a month of adding one to your keychain and purchasing the framed poem?
- Not to mention I listed “anything starfish” for my secret Santa at work. I’m sure they thought I was crazy.
With the sleeve of my shirt, I gently took the starfish and tossed it into the foggy water.
Just a few steps later, I find this one.
It was upside down.
That’s never a good sign.
This one also wasn’t as pretty as the first one and did not appear to be alive, but I threw it back anyway.
I didn’t really want to take home a broken starfish.
On my return walk, the waters had brought the broken starfish back to shore, but the first one never reappeared.
As I stared at the one left behind, these story points began to form:
I can throw a starfish back into the sea, but I can’t make it stay there to live and thrive in the environment God created.
It’s the same for people.
We should never grow weary of doing good, sowing seed or leading each other back to the Living Water.
Make a difference to that one.
Matthew 24:40-42 says,
Do you realize what God is telling us? People will absolutely miss the opportunity for eternity with Jesus.
The bible says the path to destruction is broad and wide, but narrow is the gate to eternal life…and few will find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
Few. That means we can never give up on sharing the gospel, loving people and making disciples, no matter how many times they are shipwrecked or injured.
If a starfish latches onto the sand and stays near still waters, away from the crashing shore, then it can avoid certain dangers to its life.
It’s the same for people and where we chose to walk.
Although danger can lurk anywhere underwater, the chances of injury, pain and suffering greatly increase in rough waters.
When the instability of waves overpower anything that moves near the shoreline, you can be swept off of your feet.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls. 🙂
Let Him lead you beside the still water (Psalm 23).
A starfish that is intact or looks normal should be returned to the water to see if it will survive. This is equally true for the broken ones. Give them a chance.
It’s the same for people and how we see one another.
Our differences are as vast and unique as 2,000 species of starfish.
I cringe at the thought of anytime I have looked upon someone and thought they were too far gone for rescue.
This happens all the time within the body of believers. The appearance of piercings, tattoos, hair/skin color or even a disability can put a label on a person faster than the Chick-Fil-A drive thru.
Oh! That we could see people just like Jesus, when He gazes upon a lost sheep, dirty and scarred, possibly limping in the back of the flock.
A broken leg, a missing chromosome or a damaged starfish arm doesn’t signify the end.
It can actually mean a new beginning.
Over the last week, I had worked out the basics for this post in my mind, but those were abruptly altered today when I stumbled upon some very interesting facts about sea stars.
This will disappoint my science teacher friends, but I had forgotten that starfish can regrow arms.
Although they can become broken, they can also be made new.
Even a whole new body.
Once you accept Christ into your life (a rebirth), then comes the ability for new growth.
At the moment of salvation, you’re like a baby Christian.
You have to learn to walk and talk by the Spirit, following His instructions.
You learn to eat, starting with the milk of the Word, moving on to the meat (and potatoes) of the Word.
Life starts over, but it’s going to be different this time.
Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.*
Through prayer, being mentored and the consistent reading of God’s Word, you begin to change.
Like a vine stretching along a fencepost, new leaves and branches form, eventually bearing fruit.
As believers, we can always be in a state of growth and regeneration if we do not conform to the world.
The more we try to blend in, the less we will look like Jesus.
There have been phases of my life where I have looked like Him more than other times.
And people can tell the difference.
Let me describe it like this, only because I really, really desire to have a tan.
You can tell when someone has been to the beach.
They have that sun-kissed glow on their skin. Their eyes even seem brighter in comparison and their expression is often more rested.
When we are truly walking – abiding – with the Lord, then we take on His character traits. We reflect His image.
There really can be a glow about you when you’ve met with the Lord. Remember how Moses had to put a veil over his head when he descended from the mountain (Exodus 34:30)? I am not saying we develop X-Men glow powers, but it visible in the most unique way.
Your eyes can seem brighter in comparison to our old nature.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found, I was blind, but now I see
It’s like how someone’s eyes twinkle, or shine with tears, as they share something God did or something He has revealed.
You start view the world and those around you in a different way…with your Father’s eyes.
As God’s love begins to change you, your compassion, empathy and love for others will increase.
And even though people may not believe this is possible, you can have a rested and peaceful expression.
I have seen it, I’ve briefly had it, and I am aware of the habits of those who look peaceful every time I see them.
In fact, I am thinking of two very special women who have always inspired me to live in a way that draws people to Jesus.
Despite any battle that wages around you, the peace of God, which surpasses all of our human understanding, stands guard over your heart and mind (Philippians 4:6-8).
Jesus is serious when He says,
The deep sigh when:
- a problem is solved
- a prayer is answered
- a miracle is witnessed
You know the feeling.
Why would we want to live any other way?
All of this from two starfish.
One alive and well.
One broken and clinging to life.
Both in desperate need of rescue.
The outcome is up to the Lord.
We just need to pick them up and help them back to the Living Water.
Over and over again.
How early will we start looking each morning?
It will make a difference for someone.
*SBC Statement of Faith:
Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.