While writing Sea-Devil: a Delilah Duffy mystery, I explored my love of the beach and found many beautiful connections between my character’s story and ocean life. Many have told me that this aspect of the novel has been their favorite, and it’s encouraged me to include this new section on my website to further expand upon those connections. I hope you enjoy!
“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths…” Psalm 148:7
Starfish aren’t starfish anymore, but sea stars. The name change came about because, simply, they aren’t fish, and calling them sea echinoderms wouldn’t have the same charm. So, sea stars are going through an identity shift, which is fitting since their identities can change anyway. Sea stars don’t give up easily. Chop off an arm, and sea stars grow a new one. Even if there’s hardly anything left, there’s hope for the Sea Star. The world may tear them limb from limb, but that’s okay because they can be restored through regeneration. But, Sea Stars aren’t the only ones.
The biggest regeneration story in the Bible is probably Paul… a.k.a Saul. Before he became Paul, Saul was the the guy least likely to earn a spot in heaven. Not only was he a nonbeliever, but also a tormentor of Christians. Saul hated Christians so much that he hunted, imprisoned, and even murdered them. But, God is in the business of identity shifts and restoring what’s been lost. God gave Saul a new name, and a life reborn to loving and serving. God took what was left of Saul, and created Paul, a man with an unparalleled commitment to the Lord and his church.
We often find ourselves in the midst of an identity crisis. Time and circumstances change us. Difficulties test us. How we respond to these inevitable moments dictates whether or not we will become like new sea stars or wasted and dying limbs. When Saul became Paul, God proved he could change even the hardest of hearts. He can give you a new identity, too, and he’s constantly moving in our lives to shape and direct us. All we have to do is put aside hate and pain and all those things that break us apart, and commit ourselves to God’s changing work.
Looking for a life changing story? Read about Saul to Paul… Acts 7:54 - 8:3, Acts 9:1-31, and well, any of Paul’s books. He wrote most of the New Testament. Pretty impressive regeneration, huh?
“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31
Hermit crabs are homebodies. Born with soft abdomens and no shell to enclose them, hermit crabs’ most important life mission is finding shelter. Acquiring the right shell means a good life, and they’ll use anything… snail shells, wood, stone, soda cans, other creatures, whatever works… to gain that security. Because their mobile homes are so important, hermit crabs will fight and steal from each other to get the perfect one. And hermit crabs aren’t the only creatures desperate to find a safe haven.
The Hermit Crabs’ house hunt is like the Israelites’ search when they left Egypt. They were brought out of slavery, and free for the first time in generations. Homeless and searching for forty years, they wandered the desert, a mobile home of about 3 million people. Talk about a life that seemed to lack safety and security! They had no idea where they were going, how they’d manage to get there, or what was in store. After generations of slavery, they didn’t even know how to govern themselves. But, they had God’s love and direction. God provided water when they were thirsty, manna when they were hungry, structure when they needed rules to live by, and a fiery cloud directed their steps. Though they struggled, God’s love was all they ever needed.
We are searching, too. We may have nice homes to live in, secure jobs and families, but still find ourselves anxious and lost, looking for that missing something. The comfort and peace we hope for can only be found in God’s love, and he will provide all our needs. That longing we feel is meant to bring us to him, just as the Israelites’ difficult journey was meant to draw them nearer to the one who sent them on it. When we seek him, we find the safety and security of a warm and loving home no matter where we are.
Looking for a good book? Read Exodus and journey with the Israelites to find their home - a testament to how much people struggle with understanding God and how much he loves us anyway.
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom, I will trust; my Shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 31:1
If you walk the beach at night, you may have a ghostly experience. Small, white creatures resembling ghosts may scuttle past your feet. Ghost crabs, two-inch crustaceans, wet their gills twice a day, and prefer nighttime swims. They’re called ghost crabs because they are rarely seen in the light, and at night, they dash across the beach so fast that it’s like you don’t see them at all. During the day, they hide, burrowing deep into the sand to stay cool and moist until nightfall. For the most part, ghost crabs don’t bother anyone, and no one really bothers them.
Hiding in the sand may sound like a good idea when you’re facing something difficult. Ask Jonah. He tried for a ghost-crab-life when God asked him to go to Nineveh to preach. Nineveh had a bad reputation, and Jonah was afraid. Instead of doing what God wanted, Jonah dashed. Hiding in the hull of a ship may have seemed like burrowing into the sand, but it didn’t work. God brought Jonah out of hiding, gave him time to think, and pushed him to get the job done. And, amazingly, he did!
However comforting a ghost crab kind of life might seem, we weren’t made for a ghost life. Many of us try to hide from others, avoid putting ourselves out there and taking risks, only to become ghosts - shadows of the people we are meant to be. There are as many pains and excuses to hide behind as there are sands on the beach, but God wants us to overcome these hurts and fears and be bold for him. We were made to let our light shine before men, not to burrow in the sand.
Looking for a whale of a tale? Read Jonah and discover why a ghost-crab life isn’t what God intended.
“And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13
The moment sea turtles pop out of their eggs, they face one shell-cracking obstacle after another. They stare down an expanse of beach that might as well be the distance of the Atlantic itself to something so small and vulnerable. The goal… deep water, where preying birds, at least, can’t reach them (the predators there are a different story). So, the race begins, and the turtles high-tail it to the shore. For every few steps they scurry, a couple more get taken away, either by predators or faster siblings or the shore itself. But, the race continues. Sea turtles aren’t wimpy, and their never-give-up attitudes can save their lives.
Never-give-up attitudes pay off. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and then later jailed for something he didn’t do, he could have been angry, bitter, and resentful, especially after years passed. He could have turned his back on God, believing that God didn’t care about him. But, not Joseph. He didn’t give up, but rather became a model prisoner, respected by his captors. And when the Pharaoh’s dreams befuddled his advisors, Joseph was called on to decipher them. God was working in what seemed like an impossible situation. And, Joseph had a sea-turtle kind of faith that not only led him to freedom, but earned him power in Egypt - a position that later enabled him to save his family’s life… even those nasty brothers.
Our journeys aren’t easy either. People trample over us. Obstacles push us back. Predators hover and peck away at our resolves. But, when we know we are on the right path, we must never give up, and rely on God’s strength to protect and carry us. Like the sea turtles, our battles will make us stronger.
Run, don’t walk to read this endurance story…Joseph’s trying tale begins in Genesis 37.
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
Sperm whales work best under pressure. Their favorite food is giant squid, but they have to go deep… very deep to hunt them. Sperm whales can sink over 9,000 feet, where the pressure is 300 times stronger than on the surface. A person would be crushed under its weight, but sperm whales, whose rib cages collapse to enable their deep dives, can handle it. But, not everyone can deal with pressure. Some people just collapse under the weight of it.
Goliath and the Philistine army were two giants causing a lot of pressure on King Saul and the Israelites. Goliath promised that should any Israelite take him down, the Philistines would surrender. But, no one would face him. Under the pressure of such a looming threat - certain annihilation - not one soldier would fight him. They all lost faith in God and themselves. But, David - a shepherd and musician - came from the fields with a slingshot and volunteered. He was no warrior, but he had warrior faith. He was confident in God, not himself. His triumph over Goliath proved again that God can conquer any giant.
If you’re doing anything worthwhile, you’re going to feel pressure. Adjustments are hard, but going deep means we’re doing something challenging, brave, and bold. But, unlike the sperm whale, we can’t handle always handle the pressure… at least, not alone. God asks his servants to do big things - to go deep - and he will provide whatever we need to make the journey. When you feel the pressure of God’s call, don’t stick to the surface. Not only will you miss out on great things, but you’ll also be refusing God’s changing work, leaving your life feeling stagnant, like muddy water. Go deep and find your reward.
Want to read a true underdog story? Read about David’s battle with Goliath… 1 Samuel 17. It’ll knock you out!
“I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”