Summer is coming. I look forward to summer beginning January 2nd- as soon as the Christmas season ends I am thinking about summer. Maybe its because I grew up in Florida and its perpetual summer there. Whatever the reason- I countdown to spring break then to summer vacation. I’m not sure what I will do when all my children are grown and the school calendar doesn’t determine our lives anymore.
One of my favorite spring and summer destinations is Sanibel Island- it is like the seashell capital of the world. I love looking for shells- I actually have so many shells my nephew once told me if shells become currency I would be set for life. I think that may have been an insult but I was greatly encouraged by the thought! One year we decided to have a shelling competition (are we not the coolest people you’ve ever heard of??) The kids brought friends with them to the island and everyone was game. Now in Sanibel there are very common shells and then there are shells that are harder to find. We gave shells a point value based on their rarity. Whoever had the most points at the end of the week won $50. Honestly, I wondered how could we take something as relaxing as looking for shells and turn it into a stressful competition? But we managed.
The most elusive shell on Sanibel is the Junonia. It is a white shell with a beautiful shape and brown dots. I have heard of it, I have seen pictures of it, but I have never seen an actual Junonia. We all secretly (or not so secretly) wished we would find one but had no real hopes of it happening. My son joked on a daily basis that he wasn’t sure the Junonia was even real- and the rest of us silently concurred.
Then one day, my daughter’s friend was walking down the beach and looked down and there at the edge of the water was a piece of a Junonia. Not a whole shell, just a piece. By now, between all of us we had found wonderful, beautiful shells in one piece- some pretty rare at that. But this jagged, fragmented piece of a Junonia had us more excited than any other shell we had seen. Why? Because now we knew it existed. Now we knew it was real and if there was a piece of one- somewhere out there was a whole one.
I believe this is how we discover the beautiful secrets of the kingdom. We hear about them, we read stories about others experiencing them and we wish it would happen to us but mostly we have no real hope of actually experiencing it. But what if one day you came across just a glimpse of heaven coming to earth? What if you saw not a perfect picture- but a fragmented, broken piece but it was enough to let you know it’s real. It’s out there. Jesus tells us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus never told anyone to ask for something that was not a possibility. In our daily lives we see so much disappointment, so much heartbreak – it’s easy to give up asking. It’s easy to stop believing Jesus really does want to move here on earth not just someday in heaven. It’s not just a lovely idea. It is real. It is happening. And I believe if we really started to think it was possible- it would begin to happen even more.
It’s easier to believe in the power of the enemy to devastate our lives. We don’t want to admit that but if we were really honest we would have to confess that most days we believe in the power of loss more than the power of resurrection. We stop hoping because it hurts too much. We begin to settle for what will get us through our days instead of living the life we were meant to live. Not because we want to, but because life wears us down. So how do we recover? How do we grab hold of hope again? I wish I had a simple answer. I can only tell you what I have experienced and that is we must fight for it. We must refuse to let our circumstances dictate what we believe about God and instead let God tell us what to believe about our circumstances. We have to ask Him continually to open our eyes and our hearts to see what He is doing and when we catch a glimpse- we must grab hold of it and never let it go. The Word says that Mary pondered in her heart the things that God revealed to her. Whatever you have heard from Him or seen of Him- write it down, remind yourself. Tell yourself the stories over and over again…out loud if you have to! Maybe you will feel crazy but you will recapture hope.
The Junonia is real. I’ve seen it. His kingdom coming here on earth is real. I haven’t seen as much as I would like, but enough to believe if I keep asking I will see more.