The night before last, I had a dream where I was placing a moon shell in my neighbor’s mailbox. As I walked from our house to theirs at the end of our street, I was conversing with God as I went. “Lord, why would you want me to put a seashell in the Willard’s mailbox?” I asked. To which He replied very gently, “I want them to know I see them and hear their cries.”
When I woke, I remembered my dream quite clearly. Nevertheless, I decided it was too foolish for a grown woman to put something as small and frivolous as a seashell in a couple’s mailbox where the husband is battling something as serious as cancer.
There were, however, a few moments that day when I questioned my decision to disregard the dream’s message. I’d gone to bed the last few nights praying for those who’d already been suffering prior to the arrival of COVID-19. “What must it feel like at a time like this,” I wondered, “For those who were already weary and vulnerable and walking through their own shadows of darkness?” This novel coronavirus and the measures being taken to stem its tide have overtaken our community dialogues and seem to be superseding most other kinds of tribulation. Before falling asleep the last several nights, I prayed for those facing unrelated trials who might feel forgotten. It has to be incredibly challenging in this kind of environment where most relational systems have been upended by “social distancing,” travel bans, and a worldwide fear of contagion. I also prayed specifically for those in Nashville, where parts of their community were just completely destroyed by tornadoes. When we find ourselves getting up from falling in battle only to be knocked down again, it is only natural for our human hearts to wonder if God even sees us or hears us.
In seeking God for those already hurting, He’d given me a single step to take. But in my fear of caring what others might think and my failure to connect spiritual dots, I didn’t take any action, at least not until I spoke to my sister-in-law later that same day. She and my brother had called to share updates on the virus’s continued effects on local businesses and tell us about more family members who were now unemployed. Heather then said, “Kerry, I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but your neighbor Peach Willard died yesterday.”
My dream was true. The Lord had been speaking and showing me a little thing that I could do. I knew Mr. Willard had been suffering from cancer for years, and that in recent months he’d experienced a significant decline. But I had no idea he’d just passed from this world to the next. But God knew, and He was asking me to deliver His message.
Even before my dream, I was already firmly convinced of the messages God had hidden in the moon shell. Its center speaks of how the eye of God is ever-attuned to the needs of His people, and His ear is ever-listening to their cries. The spiral in the center is part of sacred geometry found all throughout His creation. It is indicative of the mathematical perfection in things like tropical hurricanes, and spiral galaxies, the cochlea of the human ear, the cornea of the eye, and even the DNA molecule itself.
“I am sorry, Lord,” I said, “That I didn’t take your guidance to heart and that I’ve been so slow to deliver Your love letter.” “I do remember when you taught me this lesson the first time on my beach-walk-encounter with a precious widow you’d chosen.”
It was two days after a big storm when shelling is said to be best that my three little girls and I walked the beach. We met a woman who was holding a gorgeous moon shell that was the largest one we’d ever seen. It was of the shark eye variety, flawless and larger than the size of my fist. I commented on how beautiful it was, to which the woman responded, “It just came up to my feet right here in the waves while I was walking.”
Now, what others might view as happenstance, I am personally given more to viewing as providential. Because of this perspective, my heart naturally wished I knew a bit about this woman’s story. I believe God often teaches us lessons in the context of our life circumstances. I thought surely there’s a reason God wants her to know that His eyes are upon her this day in a very significant way. Seriously, this moon shell was extraordinary.
Not wanting to sound strange, I restrained myself from asking her anything more and chose to walk on with my girls. As we continued to collect pretty little shells, I found myself wishing God would give me a moon shell, just as big and as beautiful as the one He gave her. Sensing a twinge of jealousy, I confessed it to God, then told Him I was happy to wait. I knew already that He gives the messages meant for a person at just the right time and when they’re listening.
Almost twenty minutes later there in the shallows of the surf, we passed that same woman once again. She was still holding that very large shark eye in hand together with a few more she’d collected. This time, my compulsion to ask her the question had grown even stronger than before. If this was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, I didn’t want to ignore Him. The worse thing would be looking like a fool to a stranger. And, I have certainly been that plenty of times before now.
So, I mustered the courage and approached her again. I shared with her that whenever the kids and I find a moon shell, we believe God is reminding us that He sees us and that we are never far from His care. I even quoted a verse from Genesis saying, “Now I have seen the One who sees me.” (Gen. 16:13). I told the woman that I am sharing this verse just in case God wanted to remind her that she is seen by Him today in a very special way. Presently, the woman replied, “I know why He would be saying this to me. You see, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my husband’s passing.”
I couldn’t believe it! But this is just how God works! Nevertheless, every time the Lord does something like this and allows me to witness, I still find myself surprised. The Lord is always so right in all of His ways. She is indeed the one who needed the gift of the moon shell today.
Before the kids and I parted ways from this woman, who was clearly precious in His sight, we talked a little more about some of the Bible verses we often connect to the other shells she was holding. They were shells that spoke about God’s guidance and protection for those who acknowledge Him and look to Him for help.
I was reading my Bible, not many days later, and came upon more messages of the moon shell, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.” (Genesis 31:49). “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8). Now that my heart had been fully reminded, it was off to the Willard’s mailbox I would go.
Although I don’t know how Mr. Willard got his nickname of Peach, it certainly does fit him perfectly. A Peach of a human was he. Whether walking his dog, just taking a stroll, delivering flowers for the local florist, or digging up dandelions by their roots to keep his lawn pristine, Peach showed himself to be the friendliest of humans, always making my children feel seen, heard, and significant. I am learning that even God honors the “Golden Rule!” Do unto others as you would want to be done unto you. Yes, I believe it was the Lord who asked me to deliver this little letter in the form of a shell to his beloved. Perhaps this was the cry of Peach’s own heart, that his family would know that those who are with God are always near to those whom they love.
I often joke with my children about how snails and slugs have no brains; and that this is precisely why God chose them as the humble vessels for revealing His perfections and carrying His love letters to people upon the waves. Storms certainly have a way of bringing up vital messages from the depths out of darkness, letters for us to consider, and to apply! God is real! He does see, and He does hear. May we all, in the trials we are facing, take the time to cry out unto God in our need! The Word teaches that “We have not, because we ask not.” (James 4:2) And that, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” Psalm 34:15