I have a confession to make.

I am dissatisfied way too often. Surrounded by bounty and abundance, I focus on scarcity, scanning the horizon for what might be more, or better. Failing to acknowledge the good that God has placed so faithfully right there at my feet, I look instead for what I am missing. God has been revealing to me that this is, essentially, a failure in gratitude and a refusal to trust. This is sin.

This past week, God spoke to me in a particular moment, asking me to consider this tendency of mine to be ungratefully dissatistfied.

You may know that I am a sheller. Whenever seashells and I are in the same vicinity, I am hunting down various gastropods and bivalves, especially those which are rare and in perfect condition. In southwest Florida, where I’ve laid down over 200,000 steps looking for shells, there is a “holy grail” of shells called the junonia. This seashell has always eluded me—as it does most everyone—but I am ever looking, looking, looking for it. Despite knowing how rarely the junonia is found, I have continued to hope to find one in my lifetime.

Last Monday, on a shelling trip in the Everglades, I found it. Wading up to my knees in the Gulf of Mexico, eyes fixed on the ocean bottom, I saw it. Reaching in to lift the shell from the mud, I hardly believed I had finally found the elusive junonia! It took me a few moments to convince myself that, yes, this was the treasure I had searched so long for.

So, this was the moment: How would I respond to this beautiful gift? After God had walked my feet to that spot—had focused my vision on those telltale brown junonia spots embedded in the muddy bottom—would I stand and lift my arms in praise to the Creator who gives me such good things? Would I turn the shell over and over, marveling in the engineering with which God designed this particular junonia snail just for me?

Sadly, I did neither of these things. Instead, after a brief excitement there on the beach, noticing that my new-found treasure was slightly broken and ocean-worn, I turned and began to look for another, better, more perfectly formed junonia (what?!?) A dull and broken junonia was good, but a shinier, unbroken one would be better!

It was not long before I sensed the Spirit tapping on my shoulder, asking me to stop and attend. Here, God had given me the very desire of my heart—had literally placed it at my feet—and I responded with dissatisfaction. I had refused to trust that this was the particular gift He wanted me to have. It seems even when God has given me the very thing I long for, I continue to look, look, look for a better thing. I’d love to pass this tendency off as a general quirk of human nature; instead, God is gently teaching me that it is sin.

The real gift of the day was God calling my attention to this thing that needed to be confessed; now, because of this awareness, I have had the opportunity to receive his grace and forgiveness and to ask Him to renew a right spirit within me. Having had my failing named, I am grateful for the Lord’s clarification, and so I am humbly attending to it.

In this Lenten season, is God calling your attention to an area of your self that needs repair? Is there something you might be passing off as merely human nature, when, instead, He would like you to recognize it as sin? Could confession and renewal be His gifts for you today?

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.”  —Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV)

Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades, FL, 2024

Junonia, Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades, FL, 2024