“There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.”
For quite awhile now, I have felt like there has been an empty space in my heart needing to be filled. Something has been missing, leaving a dull ache that I just haven’t been able to get rid of. I have been searching for the balm that would make my heart whole again. I was looking in all of the wrong places, it seems.
Last week I watched the movie (for about the tenth time!), “The Spitfire Grill” where the song “Balm in Gilead” is the underlying theme. The empty place in my heart was touched by this movie, and the aching became more acute. I didn’t have a cure for it, and didn’t know what I needed to do to soothe this tear in my heart in order for it to heal. I prayed to God to send someone my way to fill this void, to teach me how to love again, and to open my heart to trust once again.
Then I came to the beach with the three women in my life who have been sharing this week every year with me for the past four years, the women who make me laugh, who cry with me, who challenge my beliefs, and who stretch my mind in oh! so many directions.
And I walked on the beach. And sat in the sand. And splashed my feet along the edge of the water. And let God speak to me. It wasn’t the answer I was looking for. As it is with God, it was much more than I ever dreamed of or expected.
As I walked along the shore, I began to notice the shells at my feet. My eyes didn’t zero in on the perfect shells, or the colorful. I began to notice the broken ones, the ones other shell collectors were passing by. I picked them up, gently caressing their flaws, and I spoke to their injuries. These shells landed at my feet at the water’s edge beaten up, scarred, broken, and weary from being tossed by the waves, battered by the surf, and dumped onto the beach as broken pieces of what they once were. They were beautiful. Through their brokenness, I could see the strata of their makeup, the colorful patterns on their surface, and the symmetry of their creation. I felt a kinship to these shells, and placed them into my pockets.
I bonded with these broken shells. They were like me. Broken, beaten by the waves of life, scarred, battered, weary from being tossed around by the forces of nature.
On closer look, however, their beauty shone through. Even though they weren’t whole any more, they were lovely. They were old, and had a story to tell of life and survival. They were polished by their journeys and challenges in the turbulent sea. They were desired by someone like me, who was drawn to them to admire and cherish them. And they had found a new home – with me. I rescued them from the ocean, and will take them home with me to remind me of many things and to speak to me about my own life. They have a purpose. They have a mission. They have a calling.
And then God spoke to me in the sunrise, the ocean breeze, and the warmth of the sun. God invited me to quit yearning to fill the empty space in my heart, because it really isn’t empty. It is filled to the brim with God’s love, God’s creation, God’s gentle touch. Someday, someone may find me on the shores of a beach, pick me up, caress my scars and broken places of my life, and cherish me and my story, the same way as I have discovered the broken shells on the beach this week. God reminded me that perfection is not important. One can be whole and still be broken.
I discovered the Balm in Gilead this week.