Starfish Thrown from the Sea

On a Monday night the first week of April, dusk fell on the beach of Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

As the light faded the wind picked up, until the roar of the surf filled the void of the night. Residents fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing ashore. When dawn gently pulled the dark aside, those who walked by the early-morning sea were jarred by a sight both beautiful and disturbing, one they will never forget.

Starfish. Thousands and thousands of starfish, so covering the beach that from a distance they just appeared to be sand of a different texture. The wind-driven waves had scoured the ocean bottom, scraping these defenseless creatures loose from their moorings and hurling them wildly ashore. As the sun rose, they started to die, their tiny tube feet wiggling in the air in a futile attempt to get home.

Word spread, and people came down to the ocean to see. Beachcombers tossed some back into the water; tourists scavenged the skeletons as souvenirs. Eventually the fate of those left high and dry will be burial in the local landfill- starfish ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Who cares? They are just sea creatures- brainless, powerless, doomed to die someday anyway. The most compassionate among the shore people threw back as many as they could, though it’s doubtful any made it safely home to the rocks of deep water. They have no advocate save the God who made them; the same God who promised “not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of the Father.”- (Matthew 10:29 paraphrased)

We as humans can do nothing to save the life of any creature- brilliant or brainless, potent or powerless. Sometimes we can prolong life, but all will die someday. Likewise, though we surpass the starfish in intellect and ability, we are just as powerless when waves churned by the storms of life sweep us into disaster. We are thrown upon the sand and left to die, not kicking our tiny feet but grasping at nothingness as our hearts break. Compassionate people may come alongside to pull us as far as they are able, but they can only drag us as far as the shallow water. God alone can pull us back into the deep.

We are saved in Christ the moment we accept His love and ask His forgiveness. He draws us to Himself and adopts us as children into His family. But we are not home yet. Sometimes the darkness falls and the wind picks up, and we are ripped from our moorings and washed up on shore. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been abandoned. But from the sands of the Sea of Galilee, where He fished and taught and listened to people, this same Jesus still walks the beach today. He listens for the cries of His children living here in this world; a hostile place that is not our home, not unlike sand for the starfish.

Today He plucked me from among the dying, having been seized by the storm and washed up half-dead. Taking off His sandals, He plunged headfirst into the wild water, towing me out through the towering waves toward the darker deep. He could have dropped me there, hoping I’d drift down to the bottom and find a rock I could cling to. The water was cold and night was falling; I wouldn’t have blamed Him for letting me go and saving Himself. Instead, He took a deep breath and together we dove. Fighting the current but reaching the rocks, He gently placed my fragile soul in the shelter before breathing His last and floating away.

It hurts every time I see my sin, and what my brainless, powerless life cost Him. But I sob from the safety of the cleft of the rock.

And that is the miracle of friendship with Jesus.

©2011 Rachel Ophoff, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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