The Writing Life

Lessons from a Crab

No, the title isn’t talking about a grouchy person. It’s about a real, live crab. One that I encountered one day on the Oregon coast as I walked along the beach. It was early morning, with the rising sun streaming across the vast water, the glory of the sunrise reflected in the wet sand. I’d gotten a little to close to the surf as it came in, and since I hadn’t rolled up my pants legs, I had to run a bit to avoid them getting wet. As I paused to remedy the pants leg situation, I noticed something tumbling in the receding surf.

A little crab.

The water had rolled it up out of the sea, leaving it on its back in the wet sand. No sooner had the little guy righted itself, than it scrambled, pell mell, back toward the ocean. Yet again, the incoming surf grabbed the crab, somersaulting it back to the sand, leaving it wriggling on its back. And yet again, the little critter flipped itself upright and scampered for the sea. This went on for several minutes, and I found myself rooting for the determined crustacean. And sure enough, after repeated efforts, the crab finally made it. Back into the water, where he vanished from my sight.

I gave a little cheer, and went on my way. But as I did so, it hit me. That should be me. And all of us. So often in this crazy writing world, we’re carried by forces we can’t control. Things that take our world and turn it on end, that tumble and spin us until we don’t know which way is up. Too often when that happens, we lie there, deposited in the wet sand of disappointment or discouragement, and wail. Cry out against how unfair it all is. Let anger and bitterness take root. When what we need to do is right ourselves and rush back into the arms of the God who gave us this task to begin with. Fight against the pull and sway of any setback or surprise, and plunge yet again into the depths of His truth, His guidance, His peace.

Friends, when the tides of your career seem against you, don’t give up. When the surf grabs you and carries you far from where you expect or want to be, don’t lie down and wait. Get back on your feet of faith, and make for God like your life depends on it. Because, it does.

Like that crab, when we refuse to be derailed, when we immerse ourselves in the life-giving waters of His truth and presence, we will know we’re safe. Even more than that…

We’re home.

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