September 15, 2014
FIRST-PERSON: A lesson at the seashore
Judy Bates
Posted on Feb 10, 2014

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DORA, Ala. (BP) -- My husband Larry and I drove down to Alabama's beautiful Gulf Coast beaches just in time to experience one of the few snowfalls ever to occur this far south.

Expecting 70-degree weather, we ended up with freezing temperatures, snow and ice. Thankfully, the crazy weather didn't last and we had days in the high 50s at worst and low 70s at best. Every warm day we walked miles on the beach, gathering seashells as we went.

I'd hoped to find a few sand dollars and was thrilled when I spotted one sticking out of the sand in the edge of the surf. I scooped it up only to realize the part that I hadn't seen was broken. Jagged. Chipped.

"It's not perfect," I announced to Larry immediately raising my hand to toss the inferior sand dollar back into the ocean. That very moment the Lord chose to teach me a lesson.

No, I didn't hear an audible voice. No angelic appearance. But the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to my heart. As quickly as the words, "It's not perfect," left my lips, I heard, "So who is?"

God created a magnificent perfect world and placed man within it as His crowning creation. Yet from the beginning we allowed sin to corrupt us and the earth. We weren't caretakers of each other or the land.

However, unlike me with the defective sand dollar, God didn't choose to throw us away. He saw beyond the dirt and grime and damage of our sins and said, "You're still worth saving."

And then He didn't send someone to do the saving -- He came Himself. I know this isn't new news, but it sure is Good News. And here's the takeaway: We're to be like Him. He who came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10) urges us to "Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in" (Luke 14:23).

All around us there are hurting people, as broken and flawed as the sand dollar I had judged as worthless. No one is beyond the love of Jesus. And guess what? He's commissioned you and me to reach them, to let them know they are precious in His sight, that they have value.

My sand dollar now sits in a basket of shells on my coffee table. Some of those shells are in pretty good shape, but many are only pieces of their former selves. Still, there is beauty, even in their brokenness.

Next time you walk along the seashore, forget about looking for the perfect shell. Pick up the broken. There's a lesson in them for all of us.
Judy Woodward Bates is a speaker, TV personality and author of "Bargainomics: Money Management by the Book." Visit her website at Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( ) and in your email (
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