Changing Tides, Shifting Purpose

Who would dare drive directly into the path of a hurricane?


Last Wednesday with Isaac bearing down on the Florida Gulf Coast we packed up the babies (and their parents) into a rented van, and headed toward an active Category 1 hurricane. Hey, we had booked the house and the van months before and we weren’t about to cancel our plans to say farewell to the summer from the sandy shores of Paradise! We did meet some wind and rain as we had expected but within 24 hours of our arrival the storm had passed and we were playing merrily in the pristine sand and surf. I feared that even after the storm passed, the gulf would have coughed up a lot of unsightly trash like seaweed and dead jellyfish, and ruin our beachcombing experience. Instead the gulf had offered up a treasure trove of very unusual and interesting marine life. We found several large shells of a species unknown to me (and I’ve been coming to these waters all my life). They were large fan-like shells we later identified as pen shells, former homes to a mollusk called Pinnidae. A new one for me.

The most unusual of all the discoveries we made was downright comical. Lying on the bottom almost completely covered in the fine silt of the gulf floor was a pair of cheap, plastic sunglasses. Big deal. But these specs had been there long enough that they had been transformed into the habitat for dozens of barnacles and other miscellaneous sea life. It looked like they had been part of the costume collection for one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

I thought about this discovery the rest of the weekend. An irony was there. I just had to find it. On the way home I thought hard about it.

The first thing that came to mind was the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s (or creature’s) treasure.” But then I figured there was a deeper meaning. So I thought harder, dug deeper. Nothing. Then this morning I started wondering how the sunglasses got there in the first place. Had they been neglected, left on the beach, and then swept away by the tide? Had they been dropped accidently when a large wave upended the wearer? Had they simply been cast-offs? Either way the intent of the object had been changed by some event – carelessness, abandonment or trauma  – and suddenly the glasses had a secondary purpose.

Re-purposing is a term we use nowadays when we recycle plastics or when we find a piece of driftwood and make a lamp out of it. I think in our lives there are times when an event upends us and suddenly we are sent into a different direction – to be re-purposed if you will.

We all know that we have a purpose – that God has made each one of us unique and for a reason. Most of us spend our lives looking for that purpose – what it is that we are put on this planet to accomplish. But almost every reference in scripture about that subject indicates that we are created, our sole purpose, is to accomplish His purpose. The core of that purpose can be carried out in honoring Him, but I believe He can also bestow upon us and even periodically change a secondary objective  – a re-purposing. And sometimes He uses the shifting tides of life to do it.

It’s there. The new story, the new mission, the secondary purpose. It’s all there, but sometimes you have to dig down a little deeper to find it.


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