Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Conch Shell

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Glass

July 30, 2009

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. -I Peter 3:4 NIV

A conch is a unique mollusk having a spiral shell that can become quite large. There are many different kinds of conchs, such as Fighting, Horse and Queen Conchs. It is not uncommon to find conch shells washed up on the shore of the Outer Banks. The animal that lives inside the shell is often eaten both raw and cooked, but it is likely that in our area, these spiral heavy shells have lost their inhabitants before we find them ashore. The beautiful shell of the Queen Conch is often used in crafting cameos in Europe. Also, the shell can be played as a musical instrument even though it has no mouthpiece. Not surprising, it has also served as a hand weapon. The conch shell is also religiously symbolic. For instance, the Hindu’s believe it represents life as it comes from out of the life-giving waters. But for the rest of us, sometimes it just simply represents the largest shell in our collection. To find a conch shell off the North Carolina coast is a treat for the shell collector. It won’t be shiny and pink as though it came from a shell shop, but instead, it most likely is gray, dull and weathered. Nonetheless, it is a prize because of its size and uniqueness.

We are like shells too. Our outer covering often reflects the life we live on the inside. But, there are exceptions. There is so much focus today on outward appearance and very little about developing our core, which is our values, morals and purpose. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is wisdom. It is not learned and developed by focusing on ourselves or our exterior shell. Instead, it is founded on the lessons we have learned when we step outside our shell to help others, to do good deeds, to be a good listener, to lend a helping hand, and more. God blesses us with wisdom as we grow in our spiritual walk and are focused on the right things. There are many people today that are empty shells. There is no substance on the inside of them because their focus is mainly on the outside. They look nice and make a pleasant presentation, but beyond that, there is very little there. On the other hand, some of the most beautiful, wisdom-filled people I have met had faces deeply lined from life’s journey and rough hands from hard work and yet their eyes twinkle from inner joy and contentedness. That is real beauty! What is our shell saying about us? When others see us do they see someone with a heart for God and a willingness to serve? God knows our inner self. We can’t hide anything from His sight. He knows our heart. If we don’t like what we see in ourselves, all we have to do is to ask Him to shape us with a new heart, a new attitude and a new purpose. If we are willing, He is willing.

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