The gift delivered

My aunt Rosalie had a pink conch shell from Mexico that I always picked up first thing upon arrival, listening to the distant sounds of the sea I had never seen. At ten, I finally saw the ocean for the first time, at Haystack Rock on the Oregon coast. It was love at first sight. There I found sand dollars, starfish, and the bracken of broken shells of all sorts, bewitched by their pinks, oranges, and textures. At that beach I prayed to find a conch shell.

The only problem is, conch are local as far north as some parts of southern Florida, but are mostly found in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Tobago, and Trinidad being the top 3 places where you can still eat conch and find their shells in shallow ocean water. 

Every time I visited the ocean - any ocean - I prayed to find a conch shell. I didn't want to buy it in a store, prettied up and covered in shiny polyurethane. I didn't really expect it to happen, especially after talking to the "shell man", Uncle John, on Folly Beach. He said, in all his years gathering shells for his eclectic shop, he'd never seen a whole conch. Just pieces, smashed by their battering trip up from warmer waters to South Carolina.

I found the pieces, too. But I kept praying.

God tests me physically, through health problems, church conflict, and the duties of being a wife and mother. But He is also faithful to gift me physically, too - like the exact amount of money needed for a car repair unexpectedly appearing, or a dissertation proposal being approved in a single day when I was expecting it to take months. Two organs for free when I prayed for one. A son at the end of my childbearing years.

On Monday, He gave me my conch. I took an impromptu stroll down the whole of Folly Beach, 1 mile of beach at mid-tide, trying to find a friend of mine there also. On my way home, I walked in the wet sand, letting the last tongue of wave overflow my hot feet. I picked up pieces of abalone, and more orange shell pieces for a friend who loves yellow. I saw the conch sticking out of the sand and leaned down to pick up what I thought was another partial swirl of broken conch broken down during it's travels through the ocean to this shore.

It was bigger than I thought and I had to dig it out, as it was firmly embedded in the suction of the wet sand.

It was whole. A whole conch. My prayer of 22 years answered, on a beach where there are NO conch.

I gleefully held to my ear and heard the whispering surf. It was clean, beautiful, smooth, crowned with intricate swirls and spikes. I could not believe my find.

This shell will be forever on my mantle, a visible reminder that God can do whatever He wants. At the beginning of a week filled with unknowns, a week of trusting Him with the degree I've worked on for four years, He shows Himself  in that intact conch shell. He is powerful, He is merciful, He is extravagant. He gave me this shell just to see my pleasure dance. I sang all the way back to our beach bags. You are so good to me, You heal my broken heart, You are my Father in heaven.

Do you long to dance down the beach basking in God's extravagance? Ask. Keep asking. Never stop believing that He might someday grant your strange request, no matter how bizarre, no matter how many years have passed with no acknowledgment from the throne. You never know when He's going to drop your precious gift right at your feet, in the most unlikely of places.

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again

You are so good to me, 
You heal my broken heart
You are my Father in Heaven

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song

You ride upon the clouds, You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me

You are my strong melody
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect rhyme

You poured out all your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me
~Third Day~