I, Like the Starfish
Scripture: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63: 1
God speaks to us in creative ways. Sometimes it’s through scripture that stands out to us or a Sunday sermon that moves the soul. Sometimes it’s through a friend’s uplifting advice or even a stranger’s act of kindness that fills us with gratitude. Other times, he speaks even louder through inaudible, unwritten messages that are sent straight to our hearts. Lessons painted on the eastern sky at sunrise or splashed on a candy-colored camellia: These too can be God’s ways of not only speaking to us but grabbing our attention, captivating us in wonder. Last week, God spoke to me at the sea’s edge through olive-colored starfish that had been washed ashore at low tide.
My morning started as usual, with a cup of coffee and a rollout of my personal plan to exercise in the fresh, beach air. With walking shoes laced and sunvisor fastened, I set out for a brisk walk. I may have walked 30 high-energy steps before a very determined, five-armed creature stole my attention. It was a starfish in motion, with its body askew and one limb reaching slowly toward the sky. The damp earth beneath it gave it enough sustenance to wiggle thousands of tubed feet in the direction of deeper water. When I picked up the struggling sea star, its fleshy feet tickled my palm and let me know he still had life left in him. With a light toss, I whirled him back toward his home. Ahh, satisfaction from saving a life… now, on with my agenda. But only five steps led me to yet another stranded star, then another, and another.
Never before had I seen so many grounded starfish, some flattening into the surf for a deeper drink and others reaching for a savior wave to rescue their parched bodies. I couldn’t pass them by. There was something that netted my attention. With each toss back to sea, a message became more and more clear to me. Am I not like this starfish, thirsty for soul refreshing tides when I wander from the source of Living Water?
I, like the starfish, cannot survive without the only Water that gives life. But oh, don’t we try to make our own way, pulling from regular worship, study or prayer… throwing out petty complaints more than praise and thanks? Don’t we fool ourselves into thinking we can succeed completely with our own willpower, strength and determination? But like the starfish, it doesn’t take long to realize we’ve wandered too far from Truth and Life. Our soul thirst drives a longing for God’s presence. As King David reminds us in today’s Psalm: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (63:1).
I, like the starfish, can be made new through regeneration. A unique aspect of the starfish is their ability to regenerate a completely new arm if severed. Similarly, all humans have brokenness and tainted hearts because of our sinful nature, therefore requiring regeneration– or as the Apostle Paul called it, “transformation.” But regeneration of neither a starfish’s arm nor a person’s heart can occur without remaining in the flow of God’s will and power.
I, like the starfish, sometimes need a helping hand. Even if I had a thousand feet like the sea star, there are times I still couldn’t get to where I needed to go when the strong seas of life knocked me back too far. In moments like these, God puts someone along our path to give us a hand. Conversely, there are other situations when we are the ones God uses to cross a struggling person’s path. We need to have eyes to see and hearts to pause during these opportunities to help others.
I, like the starfish, am small in comparison to the sea, and even smaller to the Source of Living Water. To stand next to an undulating and powerful ocean, always in motion with its ebb and flow, I’m reminded that God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient– all-powerful, present-everywhere, all-knowing. Understanding these truths helps us more willingly surrender our reins of control to him.
Prayer: Father of all creation, it is in your presence that I long to remain. Forgive me for times I lose my way or trust more in my own strength than in yours. Thank you for your messages through the starfish, who like me, belongs in Living Water. Amen.
Submitted by Caroline Bennett.