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.

23 Responses to Lessons from a Crab

  1. Avatar
    Joanna Alonzo November 16, 2016 at 5:15 am #

    I can so relate to these crustaceans. Maybe it’s why one of my favorite Disney songs is Under the Sea. It’s always such a fun thing to sing during karaoke nights (of which there’s a lot where I’m from). I’ve had my knocks in life. I think we all have, and I have the tendency to be more like Sadness (from the Inside Out Pixar movie). Even my friends say I’m her, but I’m learning that though there’s beauty in my being like Sadness, there’s also joy to be had in every moment we have, because He is always in control.

    The Message version of Psalm 90:1-2 has really been speaking to me lately, and I think it aligns with your message:

    God, it seems You’ve been our home forever;
        long before the mountains were born,
    Long before You brought earth itself to birth,
        from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—You are God.

    I love that last line. I think it was written specifically for us fiction writers. No matter what, from the beginning of the story up to its end, He is God.

    Thanks for this! He will sustain us all!

  2. Avatar
    Micky Wolf November 16, 2016 at 7:07 am #

    Great post, Karen! Exactly what The Divine wanted me to read and savor today. 🙂 Go, go little crab…and writers all. Thanks so much for sharing your at-the-ocean-insights.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

      You’re welcome. Love that you rooted for the crab–and writers!

  3. Avatar
    B.J. Taylor November 16, 2016 at 7:10 am #

    Beautiful, Karen. Amazing what a crab can teach us.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

      B.J. wrote: “Amazing what a crab can teach us.”

      Almost makes me feel guilty for the snow crab legs I had for dinner a few days ago.


  4. Avatar
    Michael Emmanuel November 16, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    Persistence and falling back into God’s arms.
    Thank you very much for today’s lessons, Ms. Ball.

  5. Avatar
    Carol Ashby November 16, 2016 at 7:59 am #

    Great image, Karen!
    Sometimes, when we get too self-sufficient, God may let those waves toss and tumble us until we remember how much we want to be with him and do whatever it takes to return.

  6. Avatar
    Theresa Santy November 16, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    Wonderful imagery. Powerful inspiration. Thank you, Karen, for this fresh look at persistence. I will be thinking about it all day.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

      Thanks, Theresa. I love how God reveals Himself to us in the most unexpected ways.

  7. Avatar
    Catherine Hackman November 16, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    This is so appropriate for writers. Many of us face a lot of rejection while trying to get our work out there, but from what I have read, persistence pays off in the end. Thank you for this post.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

      Persistence and remembering that we’re not doing this on our own. That we’re being obedient to the One who gave us this task, and the outcome is in His almighty hands. 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Linda November 16, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    Thanks for noticing those things God puts in our paths just to give us a message we need. Thankful for your spiritual insight and for sharing it with us. I’ve been a little sidetracked lately but this is just the motivation I needed to keep moving.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

      Linda, I’m so glad it helped!

  9. Avatar
    Brennan S. McPherson November 16, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    Wonderful post, Karen! Thanks so much for this timely encouragement.

  10. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee November 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Karen, thanks for those words of encouragement. I can picture the crab so easily, having “been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and worn the hat.”

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

      Ha! Me, too. In fact, my closet overflows with said T-shirts and hats.

      Hmmm…maybe it’s time to clean out the closet!

  11. Avatar
    Darlene L. Turner November 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    Loved this post, Karen. There are days when I just want to give up and let the sea take me, but I need to flip around and let my little legs do the walking. Onward and upward. I needed this today. Thanks!

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball November 16, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

      Darlene, you’re welcome. So grateful we don’t have to do this on our own.

  12. Avatar
    Tisha Martin November 16, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    Thank you, Karen. The disappointments sometimes are turned into cheers when we realize what God really had in store for us all along. That [whatever we wanted] wasn’t what He wanted. <3

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