He Put the Ocean in the Shells

two conical, empty sea shells

We’ve all listened. We put our ears to a sea shell so we could hear the ocean. Of course, what we really heard is the resonance of the noise in our immediate environment, but we can truthfully say God made the science of sound, and, yes, He put the ocean in the shells. How did He put something so big into something we can hold in our hands?

This is more awesome to ponder with the imagination of a child.

”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.”

Mark 10:14-15

Let’s engage the wonder of a child when we read this post. Pause a moment. Put on your creative thinking caps, because we are going to take a journey to where we may have never been before or perhaps have forgotten.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Psalms 19:1-4a

So much about God is declared by His creation without words.

Can we even describe God in words? Is it possible for us to frame His greatness? We read about God in His Word, but even still, there is so much we don’t understand, and can’t understand, as mere men and women.

How are we supposed to respond to a God whom we can’t fully understand?

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:3-4

White snail shell with brown specs in a circular pattern

God cares for us. We enjoy the blessings of His love.

But there‘s another side of the story…

In Mark 12:30, Jesus upheld the Old Testament Law when he referenced Deuteronomy 6:4:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

This Old Testament command became part of a traditional prayer for the Jews called the Shema. Jesus confirmed it is also relevant for us New Testament Christians as we consider our response to God’s love. Do we return it with love for Him? Do we offer Him a complete love – of heart and soul and mind and strength. (See also Deuteronomy 6:6-9.)

Jesus reminded us to love God as Lord – to revere Him as the self-existent One who created everything from nothing.

He put the oceans in the shells.

He blessed thousands of empty plates, then distributed them with complete meals.

He transformed the heart of a Christian persecutor named Saul, who became the most accomplished missionary of biblical times.

He is so beyond comprehension that we shouldn’t ask how big God is. No, we should wonder how infinite He is.

…because we can’t put Him in a box.

But we like to understand things. We like to understand God and we leaf through pages of the thesaurus to describe Him, but God is not a vocabulary word. God is ever superlative. Indescribable. We can’t find the words because there are no words. Yet we find ourselves trying to make sense of Him in terms we can understand.

But we can’t understand Him. Not really.

similar snail shells as the previous picture but 2 shells instead of 1

One person can read God’s Word and gain insight, while another can read the same verses and delight in something different. We can even re-read the same verses later and discover something new, something perhaps even the author hadn’t considered. The Bible is infinitely rich because it was inspired by the infinite God.

Let's not confine Him to terms that work for us, or to places only within our comfort zones. He wants to be in every space of our lives – when we wake, when we lie down, in the office, in school, in our social circles, while we work, while we play, while we relax and get refreshed. Let this be the breadth of love we offer God in return for His.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says to carry God’s commands with us everywhere at all times, and to speak of them with our children. It urges us to uphold them for all to see – to establish reminders for ourselves and for others that we are committed to the God of the universe.

God is more than a Sunday morning God. He deserves more than a prayer at meal time. He’s God while we’re at work, God when we're at ball games, and God during our daily commutes.

God put the ocean in the shells.

Do we trust in His promises? Does He reign in our hearts? Is He Lord in our difficulties? Do we let Him influence our relationships and our conversations? Do we invite Him to our parties? Is He the face people notice when they see us?

Our infinite Lord is pleased with our sacrifice – our imperfect, yet sincere sacrifice. We can invite Him into all the spaces of our lives. We have so much to gain when we do: restoration, wisdom, joy, and clarity, for starters (Psalm 19:7-8).

So let this be our prayer:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Larger, orange snail sea shell

Watch a short kids video version of this post on YouTube.

Read more blog posts here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


  1. This is a beautiful post. My husband and I live near the beach and often take walks to enjoy God's creations. I will remember how God put the "ocean in the shells". What a wonderful reminder of His majesty!

    1. I'm so glad it's meaningful for you, Melissa. How wonderful it must be to stare out into His immense creation on your walks. What a privilege we have to enjoy His presence.

  2. I loved how you used the image of the shell. Just last week I explained holding up a shell to your ear allows you to hear the ocean to my granddaughter. Now I need to go back and tell her God put it there for her to hear.

    1. How cool is that!? I'd love to see the look on your granddaughter's face when you tell her God put the ocean in there. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

  3. I love this: "One person can read God’s Word and gain insight, while another can read the same verses and delight in something different. We can even re-read the same verses later and discover something new, something perhaps even the author hadn’t considered."

    He is so awesome to speak to individual hearts this way. Great post!

    1. Thank you for highlighting that part. It's amazing how rich God's Word is. This same concept rings true when we share around the room during Bible study which is why I believe the most important role for the leader is to facilitate discussion while being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guidance.

  4. Beautiful! We all would do well to humble ourselves like children more often and take in the awe and magnificence of God. So often I wanna google everything - look to humanity and technology for answers - rather than soak in His awesomeness and creativity.

    Thanks for the reminder. :)

    1. LOL. I google a lot too, sometimes at the expense of meditation. Google is amazing, but God is infinitely more so. ;)

  5. Thank you for reminding us to take in God's creation in awe, the way children do. They see shells and clouds and stars as something new, while we pass bu them as common things. God, help us to see you as our children do!

    1. Thank you. God is so great but His greatness is easy to miss. I appreciate the prayer.

  6. It's impossible to frame God in just words because He's so infinite and there's so much about Him that remains to be understood! All we can do is worship Him and let Him take the place of God! :)

  7. Such a creative and awe-spiring post, Stephan. I've always loved Psalm 19:1 and had a love affair with the skyline since I was a little girl. Still a fan of sunsets and sunrises that take my breath away. Enjoyed going with you on this adventure and reflecting on God's greatness in a way that refuses to box Him into a succinct definition. This is a powerful thought, "We like to understand God and we leaf through pages of the thesaurus to describe Him, but God is not a vocabulary word. God is ever superlative. Indescribable. We can’t find the words because there are no words."

    1. Thank you, Karen. I'm glad for your appreciation of Psalm 19:1 and also the sunrises and sunsets that the Psalm further describes. All of us can have life through the warmth of the sun (Son) that reaches all parts of the earth. God is truly the one to behold and adore.

  8. Good Morning! What a beautiful reminder of God's vastness! I think we try to put Him in a little box so we can understand Him. Yet, His word tells us His ways are higher than our own. I'm thankful for a God who cares enough about the little things like putting the ocean in the shells AND the big things like our eternal salvation. Blessings to you!

    1. I love that you mentioned salvation. A big thing, for sure, that sometimes we may treat like a little thing. But oh how much went in to offering God's free gift that we can't live without! Thank you for your comment.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Stone Cold Truth about the Grave, Grace, and Honor

A Gift for Jesus (A Short Poem)

Boarding and Deboarding Noah's Ark
The Ride of Your Life!
(Episode 4: Our Response of Worship)