Saturday, April 5, 2008


The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” ~Psalm 51:17

“This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging …. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found …. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …” ~Isaiah 30:13-15

“God will never plant the seed of his life upon the soil of a hard, unbroken spirit. He will only plant that seed where the conviction of His Spirit has brought brokenness, where the soil has been watered with the tears of repentance as well as the tears of joy.” ~Alan Redpath

“True brokenness is a lifestyle – a moment-by- moment lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and life – not as everyone else thinks it is but as He knows it to be.” ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

On the second morning of our Florida weekend, I left the house to walk up the beach alone for a while. I had heard that the beach to the East of us was a good place to find sand dollars, and I thought I would keep an eye out for these fragile skeletons as I walked.

I saw scores of fragments, small and large, but I walked for at least thirty minutes before I finally spotted a whole sand dollar. It was about an inch and a half in diameter. As I held it in my hand and walked on, I suppose I forgot just how careful I needed to be. Within minutes it was broken, simply from the force of what I thought was a gentle grip. I glanced into my palm, sighed, and dropped the shards to the sand.

Over the next two and a half hours (it’s amazing how fast it went!) I found almost two dozen whole sand dollars. However, God wasn’t about to let this adventure be just about the sea creatures themselves. He began to speak to my heart.

Why are you only looking for whole ones?

Well, ‘cause they’re the most beautiful … the most desired.

Maybe so, but I love the broken ones, too.

Um … you’re not talking about sand dollars, are you?

I am so grateful that when God seeks us out to redeem us and restore us, he isn’t looking only for the perfect specimen among us. (He surely wouldn’t find very much!) He desires to gather up all the pieces of our lives and carefully restore us to righteousness in Him. I considered the monumental task of searching for all the pieces of a particular sand dollar, and except for the one I had discarded in a heap, I couldn’t imagine trying to piece together dozens of random fragments … much less finding them all as they were surely scattered throughout the sea and various coastlines of the earth. But, God does not have that problem. He knows at any given time where all the pieces of your heart, your life, lie … lost, discarded, rejected, possibly even forgotten by all by Himself. And he is willing to go to the ends of the earth - even to the cross - to reclaim the pieces and restore you.

As I walked and pondered further, I decided to pick up some fragmented skeletons as well … just to remember this moment. However, the longer I walked, the more I became aware that I was not just looking for any ol’ piece. Now I was looking for perfect pieces of broken sand dollar. Not necessarily those with clean breaks, but those that were, even in their brokenness, still lovely, appealing, and recognizable as sand dollar pieces.

Why are you just picking up the “perfect” broken ones?

Oh my ….. You’re right. I’m a slow learner.

Not only does God not look for whole, perfect, healthy people to claim for Himself, but He doesn’t even care what condition your pieces are in. If you show only a small, seemingly insignificant, superficial crack, you are still in need of His grace. Yet, even if you are shattered into billions of pieces - wounded by countless people and events, bruised by scores of hurtful words, paying the consequences of innumerable sins – he still longs to bring healing and restoration to your soul. I realized in what desperate condition we would be if God were willing only to pick up our “perfect” broken pieces, because there really are none - none lovely, none desirable, none even recognizable.

Thank you, God, for not being as closed minded as I am. Your desire for perfection is satisfied not in my upbringing, choices, talents, experience, plans, or will, but only in the holiness bestowed on me by your grace alone.

“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ – contrary to what we would expect, brokenness is the pathway to blessing! There are no alternative routes; there are no short-cuts. The very thing we dread and are tempted to resist is actually the means to God’s greatest blessings in our lives.” ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss


  1. I have collected sand dollars on a Florida coast as well. They are quite a thing to behold - especially when they are alive - you see them as creatures, not shells. And it is in the breaking of a sand dollar that the "doves" inside are released. I love the analogy of Christ with the sand dollar. Thanks for sharing.

    Paula Ü

  2. It is the simple things that teach me the most.


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