I have this problem I am obsessed by sea glass. Do you know what it is? It is pollution in the ocean that God turns into beauty by the time it washes up on the shore. Sea glass is mainly created by shattered beer bottles that are discarded in the ocean and break up from the constant pounding of the waves from the sea. The once sharp edges that could cause harm if you stepped on it has been sanded and polished until it is smooth and harmless. It appears to be a potential danger to your foot if you walked on it, but after you pick it up and hold it in your hand you discover it is no longer an item of harm, but a unique beauty that reflects the light of God.
I happen to be on a beach that has a plethora of sea glass. It looks harmful when you see it laying on the beach. You would want to be careful when you picked it up if you didn’t know how it had been reshaped by God’s powerful work through the wind and waves. I think about God each time I pick up a piece of this glass that makes its way to the beach. I think about how He does a similar work in my soul through the harsh realities I live with in this world. Like the discarded beer bottles, I am crushed and broken by the carelessness of others and even my own foolish choices. In the process of being broken I develop sharp edges that can hurt others. It is only with God’s constant work of forgiving me of my sins and asking me to do the same for those who have sinned against me, over and over, like the waves of the sea. It is the never relenting effort that repeats itself again and again and again that my sharp edges are polished, and I become less hurtful. I think of all the broken people who live with me in this world and how God longs to transform their brokenness with the tools of heartache, pressures of this world, gaining strength then failing again, being torn back to old ways, until eventually our souls are different, we are transformed into beautiful pictures of God’s holy work like the sea glass.
My sea glass collection started small. I thought I would fill a glass cup to hold a bouquet of the feathers I was collecting. But I didn’t stop there. I couldn’t stop. I just kept picking up more day by day. I’m not sure what I will do with my sea glass collection. It’s beautiful to look at and I would love to find a way to make a stained-glass piece or glue it to driftwood in a way that you could still see the light shining through the glass. I quickly put together this picture for you to understand how it is possible to see beauty in brokenness.
My sea glass collection helps me see people the way God sees them. Every single human being has great value to God. Though others discard, break, and avoid them, each person has unique beauty to add to the world. This beauty of people is brought out through the handiwork of God recognizing His purpose though the waves, wind and sand seem to be difficult to endure—they all work together to create beauty in our souls. If we can see the beauty in ourselves then we are able to connect to others who have weathered the storms. Together we begin to reflect God’s beauty in a unique way.
Sea glass reminds me of Isaiah 61:1-4 the passage Jesus read in the Synagogue in Nazareth as He let his people know His purpose in the world:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Sea glass reminds me of what God is doing in my life through the harsh realities that are hard to endure.