One of the greatest treasures of our faith is also one of the best-kept secrets. God wants to share his love with us in unique personal relationships.
Pope Francis calls on Christians to seek a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least openness to encountering him, every day. This invitation is meant for all people as “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
If you have had a personal experience of God’s love, please send your story to Joyofknowing@gmail.com. Whether you had a major conversion or momentary connection with God, please share your experience. We all need confirmation.
Here is a personal joyful story to begin our conversation.
“1MOR-SHL” and “OCEAN-1”: These phrases on two license plates were answers to prayer. I saw them both on the cars in front of me, while I was stopped at a red light, praying about whether I should share my “shell story” in a spirituality class.
Years ago I found two beautiful large, perfectly formed whelk shells on the beach in Avalon while walking and praying. After strolling for a couple of miles, I saw a small child playing in the sand with one of these shells, which resembles the conch shell. I had never seen one of these shells on our beaches. They are beautiful.
I thought, “I’d love to find one of those shells.” Almost as if God had answered, “You would?” I heard in my head, “Go into the water.” I know I didn’t make that up. So I started walking into the water. When I reached about knee height, I heard, “Reach down.” When I did, I felt the tip of a hard shell in the sand and pulled it out. It was a large, perfectly formed whelk shell!
I wanted to run home and share my good news, but I was 40 blocks away. So I continued walking happily and thanked God.
When I was almost home, I thought, “My family will never believe this is a miracle. They’ll say it’s a coincidence.” I really wanted them to believe and know what I know. God hears our prayers. He loves us and wants to help us.
So I asked God, “Will you please let me find another shell so they will know for sure that it was you?” I am finding it hard to admit my boldness here. God is so generous and merciful.
Shortly after asking, I noticed something glowing in the sand near the water. When I got closer, it wasn’t glowing, but a piece of a shell was sticking up out of the sand. I pulled it out and was amazed to see another large, perfectly formed whelk shell.
I was filled with wonder and awe. I started to run home, thanking God for his incredible kindness. My family and friends were also amazed. I still have these shells.
Years later, “one more shell” appeared just as miraculously.
It was the summer of 2012 and I was walking on the beach again.
Since the time I found those two shells, my marriage had ended and my life had changed dramatically. My mother died and shortly after my father developed dementia. He moved in with me, as he was unable to care for himself.
I really needed to know God was still with me.
I thought about the whelk shells I had found years earlier, and the joy they brought me. I had felt so close to God.
I missed that earlier time in my life, remembering fondly all the great times at our shore house with our extended family and friends.
As I walked under the fishing pier at 30th Street, thinking about how dramatically my life had changed, another perfectly formed whelk shell rolled up out of the water, directly in front of my feet. I would have stepped on it, if I didn’t see it.
This has never happened to me anywhere, and it was not a coincidence. I know, with deep conviction, that God did this for me. He deeply loves us and wants to heal our hearts.
I truly don’t know why God chose to be so kind to me, giving me these joyful shell miracles, but I do believe that he wants us all to share the joy of knowing him.
How loving is our God to reveal himself so personally! Nothing compares to the joy I now know. He is with us. He hears our prayers. He is for us.
I will tell more of my witness story in future columns, but I’d like to share your stories. Please send them to Joyofknowing@gmail.com and I’ll share as many as I can.
Cathy Peacock holds a master’s in theology, is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Wayne.
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