What 6 Shells Taught Me About Humbly Serving My Neighbors

By: Jan Lashbrook
There are many lessons to be gleaned from God’s creation. By describing six types of seashells she encountered at the beach with her granddaughter one summer, CCA’s Early Childhood Director Jan Lashbrook shares what she learned about loving the people God puts on her path. May her reflective questions in this article encourage you to serve others well, and in turn, make a profound impact for His Kingdom in the communities He has placed you in.

Philippians 2:3-9 paints a beautiful picture of how God wants us to represent Him by walking in humility, regarding others as better than ourselves:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of the cross.

When our three kids and their families come down for vacation, we go to the beach as often as possible. We can learn a lot from the ocean and God’s creation as a whole. One summer, God used collecting colorful and unusual shells with my granddaughter to teach me some spiritual lessons about how I should be loving the people in my life — my neighbors — like Jesus commands us to in Matthew 22:36-40.
We can learn a lot from the ocean and God’s creation as a whole.
Here are six types of shells I encountered on the shoreline that summer and the convicting questions they prompted me to ask myself. I pray they may also cause you to reflect on how you are illuminating Christ’s loving light to others.

  1. BROKEN SHELLS

    We found a broken shell that had been crusted over; it was ugly and unrecognizable. I wanted to throw it out, but my granddaughter wouldn’t let me. She said, “It’s special, Nana!” That shell had a rough life. It had become crusty and hard, and lost whatever beauty it once had.

    • Have we developed a hard crusty or broken shell around our hearts as a result of difficult experiences? Or have we asked God to take our disappointments and hurts and not only use them for His glory, but also allow them to bear spiritual fruit in our lives?

    • Do we see the beauty in hard-to-love people, valuing them as God values them, no matter what kind of an exterior shell they’re wearing? I can almost hear Him saying, “but they’re special to me, [insert your name here]!”

  2. HOLEY SHELLS

    We found a shell with a round hole in it. Another sea creature had bored a perfectly round hole in it so it could eat the delicacy inside.

    • Do we have something others want? Would others be full of the Lord’s goodness and satisfied after spending time with us?

    • Are we a walking example of “O taste and see that the Lord is good”? Or are we that mollusk who, by our words or actions, suck the very life out of a fellow believer, leaving behind a hole in their shell?

  3. FRAGILE SHELLS

    Another day that summer we found a beautiful, yet very fragile sand dollar.

    • Are we loving and careful with our words when interacting with a fragile friend, family member, or classmate who’s going through a difficult season in their life? Or are we the fragile person that breaks easily, requiring those around to us to walk on eggshells?
    We’re all flawed and dysfunctional in one way or another, just like the shells in the sea. But God uses us anyway!
  4. DEPENDENT SHELLS

    My granddaughter found a shell with a worm casing wrapped around it. This shell had carried this other sea creature on its back. I wondered for how long.

    • Do we ease the burden for others that need help for a season? Or are we burdening the people in our life with negativity, neediness, or gossip that is draining them and slowing them down in their spiritual walk?

  5. HUGGING SHELLS

    We found a shell wrapped around other shells. This little guy had wrapped his arms around quite a few things and held them close.

    • Can people come to us because they know they’ll find comfort and guidance from God’s Word? Can we be trusted with their struggles, being quick to show compassion instead of judgement?

  6. LARGE, AGED SHELLS

    Lastly, we found two very large shells: a brown snail and a white conch shell. These two shells had some age on them. They probably originated deep in the sea, not along the shoreline. We’re all working toward this goal — to be mature and wise and large in the patience and love of Christ; humble, pure and holy, not glorying in our wisdom, but in Christ’s work in us.

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
We’re all flawed and dysfunctional in one way or another, just like the shells in the sea. But God uses us anyway! I’m so grateful for that. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 26-30:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. That, as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Knowing that everything we have and everything we are is because of Christ’s generous grace and mercy brings about an understanding and love for others, despite their idiosyncrasies, as well as a thirst for serving Christ. I pray that we use the unique callings and attributes God has given us as believers to make an impact for His Kingdom in the communities He has placed us in.

 
Jan Lashbrook is the Early Childhood Program Director at Calvary Christian Academy. She and her husband are “empty-nesters,” having raised three children who are all grown and married. Their youngest attended CCA for 12 years, graduating in 2012.
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  • Cindy Homidas
    Awesome Article Jan?? Thanks for sharing.

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