What is that?
That was my question to my friend as we walked along a southern Florida beach this week. My work had brought me to this supposed-to-be tropical paradise. Only this week it is paradise minus the tropical since the high temperatures have hovered about 60 degrees Fahrenheit with 10-20 mph winds. Nevertheless, when presented with a beach to walk on and a friend to share it with it, count me in.
My friend is local to this area and her response to my question surprised me. “It’s a coconut. They float you know. That’s why you find coconut trees in the most remote of places, because they float in the ocean and once their shell is pierced or cracked it’s hard not to grow a coconut tree.”
The things you don’t know that you don’t know.
It was like a cartoon bubble with her words was hanging between us and then exploded in front of me into a vision. I could see all these hearts encased in hard coconut shells, existing but not existing, as they float and bounce through the sea of life. That shell grew there to protect the vulnerable seed and it served a good purpose for a while, but unless it is cracked/opened in some way the contents will rot and die. Hmmmmm …. anybody seeing a parable here?
I feel like I’m getting a “behind the scenes” glimpse of my life and the lives around me. You know, the view the author has of what the story will be, but isn’t yet.
Our hearts are vulnerable and when we choose our own devices to protect them we build shells/walls/encasements to protect them. Until we can get to a safe place to put down roots and be nurtured, those shells serve a very vital purpose – they help us to survive. But then the wear and tear of life = the ocean; or some external force causes the shell to crack and the seed is released, exposed, takes root and grows in the strangest and most remote of places, because it’s hard NOT to grow a coconut tree.
Have I confused you? Our hearts are the life containing seed of the coconut. The shell is our efforts to self-protect our hearts through our own soul’s power be that isolation; I’ll reject you before you reject me; judging others to rationalize why we should not connect … you get the picture and can add your own “protective device” here.
Our Heavenly Father takes whatsoever the enemy purposed for evil that first caused us to turn to self-protecting and turns it to His good purpose (Genesis 50:20) by allowing that shell to protect our hearts until we come to a place where we can be safe with Him and put down roots into Him (Ephesians 5:17), because it’s hard NOT for a heart to grow when that happens.
I’m seeing in this parable that just when life seems at it worst because of the enemy’s modus operandi to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) our Heavenly Father sees that break in our defenses and is there to allow our heart to spill out into the soil of His love for His promise is “I am with you always” (Matt 28:20).
Unlike the coconut seed though we have a choice. To allow our hearts to spill out and to remain free of the shell; to put down roots and thrive; or to crawl back inside the shell to try to repair the shell by adding even more layers to it through our own efforts. If we choose the first option, freedom and growth may feel a little scary after being so confined, but oh how beautiful we/our hearts become if we make that choice.
If we choose to crawl back into and refortify that shell, our hearts will eventually decay to the point they die from being cut off from all that they need..
So my fellow coconuts … where is your heart? Would you like to let it to come to rest in the safe, rich soil of God’s love to be set free from its shell to grow strong and thrive? Are you still protecting your heart with the shell of your choice? Is your heart rotting and dying because you’ve hidden your “safety coconut” away where nothing can reach it? Have your defenses been breached by the enemy who is seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)? Are you weary from any or all of the above? Where ever you have ended up, Our Heavenly Father is big enough to meet you in that place and provide the soil of His love for your heart to be nurtured and grow strong. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
As I look at the beauty of the nature around me this week, I see the results of the choice for life and growth.
I see the steadfastness of the One who has promised to be with us always in the sunrises
And despite swells and strong winds, I saw the majesty of the horizon and the sky declaring exactly what the psalmist wrote that the Heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows forth His handiworks (Psalm 19:1).
The coconut and all of this tell me it’s hard NOT to grow a heart that’s strong and free when it spills into the soil of God’s love. Your choice?