The Beach Cross Story: A Personal Testimony

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For three consecutive Thanksgivings I chose to spend the day in Galveston, since my husband had moved to our second home in Flagstaff, preceding our eventual relocation, and I was living in our Houston home of many years. Since I was traveling back and forth to manage the transition after the sale of our company, it did not seem practical to travel to Flagstaff for Thanksgiving when I had obligations in Houston prior to the Christmas holidays.

The Beach Walk Inspiration

Finding myself alone for the long weekend, Galveston was a perfect diversion to enjoy the day. On the final year of my transition, I was taking my traditional walk on the beach when I spied some small pieces of driftwood. I was inspired to pick them up though I was not sure what I would do with them. I was not accustomed to shelling on Galveston beach as it is not the ideal location for finding pristine shells, however, having found the driftwood it occurred to me that they could easily form a cross. With that in mind, I began to pick up shells thinking I could create an image of Christ on the cross with them.

Unprepared for shelling, I did not have anything to bag my collection so I carefully cradled them in my hands! Somewhere along the way I found something to hold them as they became more than I could hold! Now committed to my creative mission, I realized that I needed a large shell to represent the body of Christ. The notion seemed impossible to find until I spied an elongated piece of oyster shell – “ah, perfect for the broken body on the cross,” I thought.

Giving Thanksgiving

Laden with a good supply of shells I completed my walk and then prepared for Thanksgiving buffet at my favorite seafood restaurant. I decided I would return to the beach later after a hearty meal and texting all my friends and family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

The Beach Gallery

With bag of shells and driftwood in hand, wearing my beach shoes and hat, I returned to the beach to create and photograph the image representing Christ on the cross. It was a windy day and I wanted to take advantage of the incoming tide; my idea was to capture water surrounding the cross to designate His living water washing away our sins. This was a challenging assignment as the wind kept taking my hat away, and in the rising tide my bag of shells kept floating away! I had to find the right distance from the shoreline to have time to create the image, allow the water to partly surround it and snap the picture. Ultimately, I managed to bring all elements together without losing my hat!

The Meaning of the Beach Cross

The resulting image is on the celebratingchrist.com home page. It has become a favorite photograph of mine as it memorializes my journey over the previous three years of my business and personal transitions. While I was alone on the beach for Thanksgiving far from family, I believe the Lord inspired me to be thankful for all He had done for me.

Those fragile, broken and worn shells represent His crucified body. The driftwood of course represents the wooden cross upon which He hung. The sand represents the entire world for whom He gave His life, that all may be saved. The water reflects not only His blood washing away the sins of the world, but also the Holy Spirit who fills us upon acceptance of His sacrificial grace. The pierced shells for His hands and feet remind us of the nails from which He bled. The jagged shell for His bowed head, represents the crown of thorns pressed upon His brow. Above His head is a broken sand dollar, traditionally viewed as telling the crucifixion story, here represents the message written by the Roman soldiers, “King of the Jews”.

Together for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I was privileged to spend with my husband of over 40 years in our new home in Flagstaff. Together we thanked the Lord for bringing us through a challenging period of our lives to celebrate together in our new home. Each Thanksgiving I spent alone on the beach, I felt privileged to enjoy the beauty of His creation, His presence in my life, and His promises to bring me through my transitions.

Come to the Cross

In the same way, His sacrifice provides these same promises for you. Wherever your journey takes you, whatever your circumstances, you can always come to the cross to satisfy your needs.

Seven hundred years before the birth of the Messiah, Isaiah foretold:
“Surely, he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53: 4 – 5

Bring your burdens, challenges and transitions to the cross and He shall restore, provide and sustain you.

By Sheryl Dawson
Thanksgiving, 2017

This image is available on a mug, a travel mug, or a spiral notebook at RedBubble.

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