A few weeks ago, Clara and I had the chance to get away to the beach for an early morning walk. Libby and Brandon each woke up with a fever, and wanted to stay in their beds a bit longer. So, it was a rare and welcomed opportunity to get out of the house with just Clara.
As we walked along the water's edge, I asked Clara to help me look for shells. I wasn't really specific, and it became fun to watch a three year old examine the shells along the shore. She picked up several "diggers" which were still the shelled home to tiny creatures. I told her that they were still alive and that we should leave them right where they are. So, she pressed on.
There were hundreds of tiny shells that were leftover from high tide. They were arranged in a neat line all along the beach. Clara took time to examine many of them, and although there were plenty of whole shells, it seemed she was drawn to the broken ones. As she stooped down to pick up her new found treasure, she would hold it up proudly to me and ask, "Is it alive? Is it broken? Can I keep it?" This happened over and over, and she quickly learned to realize which were alive and which were not. However, she never wanted to put the broken ones back, and she never really even wanted to pick up the shells that were whole.
Our walk lasted about an hour, but the lesson Clara's shells taught me will stay with me awhile. You see, somewhere on our journey back towards our car, the Lord reminded me, in His gentle way, that we are like those broken shells. He came for the broken, not the whole. He longs to pick us up, to treasure us, to make us whole... because we are the broken ones.