Monday, June 25, 2012


When I heard the heavy breathing outside my bedroom window, I could have pulled into my shell, crablike, of blankets and pillows. My heart could have raced. My hand could have reached for the cell phone to call 911. But I didn’t. Yes, I wondered what caused the noise, but calmly I praised God while asking Him for protection. His peace truly does pass all understanding. I pray that you experience it, too.


Hermit Crabs

I met a young boy who keeps hermit crabs for pets. The hermit crab offers some light into human nature. Called a hermit because it lives in a shell, it gives the sense that fear motivates its actions. Its fragile body prompts it to retreat into its shell at the slightest provocation of danger. As it grows, it climbs out of its crowded shell and crawls into a larger one that it has found somewhere on the beach.

We humans are like hermit crabs when we crawl into our self-made, emotional shells, perceiving danger. As we mature, we find larger shells to use as perceived safety. Some of us remain fragile throughout life, always afraid to take risks, always vulnerable to outside threats of danger.

Others, like Stephen who followed Jesus, relied on the strength of God rather than on his own strength. Stephen was “full of faith and power, and did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8) Jewish leaders and others argued with him but “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” (verse10) They stirred up people against him and brought him to the authorities because of his so-called lies. Stephen would not be deterred. He spoke passionately about how Jesus fulfilled the Jewish prophecies as the Messiah.

Stephen, consumed with following God’s will, answered his tormenters, trusting the Holy Spirit to empower him as he spoke. His determination to please God gave him the strength to face stoning.

Stephen was no hermit crab. He had no fragile psyche but the strength of God. He had no desire to cower in a shell of fear but exhibited, through the Holy Spirit, boldness and strength. Stephen’s message is considered the most hard-hitting message in the New Testament letters. He went so far as to ask God to forgive his assassins, following in the example of Jesus, our forgiver.

The result was astounding. As he gazed into heaven, he “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Verse 55) Jesus, who is seated at God’s right hand, stood—perhaps to honor Stephen for his sacrifice and to meet him face to face.

Do we trust in the power of God’s Spirit? Or do we trust in our self-made, crab-like shells that ultimately grow too small and ineffectual for a victorious life?
Lord, help us be more like Stephen, unafraid, willing to trust Your Spirit’s power to help us through any situation at any cost. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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