Trading Your Message and Platform For The God-Sized Dream

by | Jan 18, 2013 | Uncategorized


“Darn it, I forgot my camera,” I said to my son. I didn’t think I would need it. It looked cloudy and overcast out my dining room window while I was getting ready to take him to school. When I pulled out of the neighborhood and saw the pink backdrop illuminating a field of naked trees I felt God say, “It’s okay, you need to listen; take in what I’m going to show you today without the distraction of your camera.”

Dressed for a morning walk on the beach, I drove with the windows down, pulled in to my regular sandy spot on the way home. I don’t mind the stench of fish anymore. It smells like life to me now; of celebrating His creation. But today, the smell hangs unusually heavy in the air.

When I cross the threshold from parking lot to beach, I interrupt a seagull family reunion on the shoreline. A woman wearing sunglasses and running shoes holding a camera in her hand walks up behind me. “I forgot my real camera,” I tell her, trying to capture the family photo with my phone.

“So this is where the fish are, huh,” she replies.

That’s when I realize it. These aren’t just a few fish strewn on the beach, and this is no family reunion. There are spoils of fish to feed thousands of hungry birds.


I zigzag my way around the silver carcasses, avoiding their bulging eyes and scarred bodies lying like wounded soldiers in the sand. And suddenly I remember what I said yesterday in my blog post, what He told me a few days earlier:

“We’re not meant to catch every fish, or the eye of every reader, or the heart of every man. Just those he gives us. And that is enough.”

My hand gapes over my mouth and tears drip down my cheek. His message wasn’t finished. He was giving me more.

“There are more than just a few fish to catch Shelly.”

And as I continue down the beach, my eye hooks on a stubby stick pushed in the sand marking a message. Really?  Two love letters in the sand in one week?


The longer I walk, the smell of life transforms to the putrid smell of death. What I saw still haunts me.

Scattered silver scales and sawed off fins stretched in obscene piles as far as my eye can see; armies of seagulls standing still, yards away from the fish. As if the riches of their morning breakfast transforms to a plate of grief.

“They represent forgotten souls strangled by evil’s bony fingers,” he whispers. “Gasping for breath because no one told them I could save them.”

“The smell is horrible,” a beach walker calls out to me holding her arms open, shoulders pulled up to her ears. “Why do you think this happened, why are there so many fish on the beach? I’ve never seen this happen before.”

I wanted to tell her it is a message from God; He’s trying to get our attention. The smell of our sin reeks. But instead of that I say, “Maybe God wants to feed the birds this way today.”

Am I like one of those seagulls, stuffed full with the riches of His goodness, standing on the sidelines of lost souls while they die without hope? Walking among scattered carnage keeping the message of Truth to myself.


What do you do when you realize your dream isn’t as much about a book, or a platform, puny words knocked out in a blog post or being known? It’s bigger than that. It’s God-sized.

Because lasting fulfillment isn’t in dollars, approval from others, a golden ticket, and the way favor found you one day, or in the numbers you anxiously seek. It comes from the welcome of those waiting with arms outstretched at heaven’s gate. The ones He sends to you today, to reveal His Kingdom now.

Fulfillment is in the Message, not the method.

Fish need catching. Many will die, pushed up on the shore of life’s frailties before they hear the message of hope. Are you willing to tell them, to be the messenger?

I sat down on a jagged rock, looking into the sun rising slow and shimmering over the water, watching the waves break over the groin, and surrendered. Surrendered perfect prose, saying the right thing, a platform, a book with my name on the spine, friendships, and being known or unknown. To deliver the message. His message to the hopeless from the life He gave me.


Are you ready to catch some fish with me?


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  1. 4gilbert1

    I needed these specific words so very, very much…at this very moment. He keeps reminding me that His plans are “God-sized,” and somehow, I keep forgetting it.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanking God for His timing Rebekah. And we all have to be reminded, trust me.

  2. Lark Fiore

    In AA we are often reminded that if our message reaches just one person then we have succeeded. It is God’s business what happens as a result of that encounter. One may become one hundred yet I will only know that one person out of fifty or so who heard me speak, came up to me with tears in their eyes and said, “You told my story. Thank you!” I think it is the same as we walk in relationship with Jesus Christ. All of my hopes, dreams, resentments, all of “me” begins to surrender to this love that will not let me go and I begin to see myself in service to the Lover of my soul. I took a book with me to the emergency room to read as I waited to have my blood drawn. The title is simple, “So why don’t you want to go to church anymore” or something very close to that and I thought it simplistic. The book itself is thought provoking and has drawn me into the heart of who we really are in Christ. When I entered the room to have my blood drawn one nurse asked me about the book and said she really needed to read it as she didn’t want to go to church as it is now and two others joined her in a similar response. I am going to buy a copy of the book for the first woman and give it to her. I never said a word. The Holy Spirit just did His thing. All I did was show up for my blood work and bring along the book I was reading. While I was in the hospital for a week with the blood clot thing God brought three women into my life to either minister to me or for me to realize, much to my amazement, that I was His conduit for that point in time. I was simply being in the hospital and being who I am and the Holy Spirit seized the moment. Who knows? Are these blood clots really just a coincidence?? How lovely to die to ourselves and be born into the glory of service to our Father and all we have to do is show up! I could just about go crazy with the majesty of it all.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      What a great story Lark. And I love what you are saying here, that just being ourselves, the way God made us, messy and all, is what speaks to others. Not something we think we need to be or create in order to be received by others. Praying that God will use that book to speak to that nurse. Yes and amen!

  3. Maureen

    “My hand gapes over my mouth…” That is me, now. wow. As Sandra, stunned…

  4. HisFireFly

    His mission, our purpose
    one and the same
    as we learn to abide His heart beats within us

    There is poetry in your prose, believe it

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I agree and thank you for your kindness.

  5. Sharon O

    All I can say is WOW.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I had that same word on the beach Sharon. Breathless and wordless more like it.

  6. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    Great message, Shelly. And so true. I’ve been thinking along these lines myself, lately, too.

    Not sure if it is the same thing there, but someone told me that happens with fish in the Great Lakes every four years. I don’t remember why… but that it is a regular occurrence. I was horrified to find it one season… and yes, the stench and scenery of it was unbearable. In the light of what you say, how much more that is true…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m sure there is some scientific reasoning behind it that would be interesting to know but for me, it was an illustration I needed. I’m a visual person that pays attention to detail. He knows that, because He made me that way and definitely got my attention. I was undone to say the least.

      • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

        I know what you mean. I’m the same way. I remember thinking similar thoughts one fall, watching fragile, dead brown leaves (not the colorful ones) floating in a river. I think it is the creative in us that finds images so strong…

  7. Dea Moore

    Yes, yes, and yes. Those are the only words I can come up with at this moment. Could He be more clear??

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I know it. It felt a bit risky to share it. Some of the things God gives me may seem crazy to others. But I read today from the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, “The greatest chapters in history always began with risk, and the same is true with the chapters of your life. If you’re unwilling to risk your reputation, you’ll never build the boat like Noah or get of the boat like Peter.” So I’m stickin’ with that. I know you get this, its why He brought us together.

  8. Jennifer Camp

    Shelly, all those fish–so many lives He longs to fold up into His arms. I will be praying, sweet Shelly, as you lean into Him and soak up what He has for you. It is so good. And your words, your writing. . . you take me to another place. I feel Him close when you write. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you for you prayers and encouragement Jennifer. I think the main message for me is for my focus to shift to the Message, His Message, not the methodology of how to communicate it. I get way to concerned about the Why and How questions and just want to stay with the What. For that to be enough.

  9. pastordt

    Well, amen and hallelujah, Shelly. Lovely story (stinky fish and all) and even lovelier application. The more we can surrender, the more we are free to be ourselves, the way God designed us to be. And it is as we’re designed to be that we most welcome others to join us in the journey, that we ‘catch fish.’ Faithfulness and availability – pretty much it. Thanks for this, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Such wisdom in your words Diana. So true that the more we surrender to be the people He created us to be, the more we can welcome others to sojourn with us. Love those two words that sum it up. We make it way too complicated sometimes, at least I do.

  10. Joy Lenton

    Your eyes and spirit are the camera here as you drink in the detail. We’re on holy ground. Such glory in your experience and words. What a poignant portrait of the “putrid smell of death” that sin really is in God’s eyes.
    In surrendering “perfect prose, saying the right thing” you write with Holy Spirit given power and breathtaking beauty. Living up to your blog title and revealing God’s hand upon your life.
    So much to take in. My heart wants to say “Yes” to your invitaton to fish for souls as He brings people into my orbit. Maybe even this limited living body can rise to the challenge. I hope and pray many will be stirred by this wonderful glimpse of the Father’s heart that you were privileged to share. Bless you, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Your words feel anointed Joy and I’m taking them in, pondering them, thankful for the grace you extend.

  11. ro elliott

    The message not the method….being tucked away quiet helps so much to die away…true peace and joy is being in His will…where …how…when….and why get swallowed up as we surrender all to Him. Blessings my friend as He continues to whisper his Love.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s already been an amazing start to the new year Ro, thanks for being here.

  12. dougspurling

    Thanks to Sandra Heska King mentioning this on facebook I found your post and it was about my favorite things! Or perhaps it was God leading me here, I’ve already thanked Him, now I thank you. Keep casting you’re bringing in a catch the likes of which you won’t see this side of heaven.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      so thankful Sandy brought you here, she is a dear friend. And your comment about what we don’t see this side of heaven, it made me teary in its truth. Thank you for helping me to remember.

  13. Laura

    I fail miserably in this area Shelly. And I struggle with why…and I think sometimes it because I fear rejection. Rejection comes often enough without going out to purposely look for it. Yet, Jesus did not fear rejection so neither should I. “To deliver the message. His message to the hopeless from the life He gave me.” Wise words…may I not neglect what He has trusted me to do.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You are in good company, I’m not sure there are many on the planet who don’t fear rejection in some form. And really, I think the point here is that He wants you and me, for us to be ourselves in the way we deliver the Message. It is Him working in and through and we don’t have to Make something happen. Just be open and obedient, trusting in his guidance. You are loved Laura, just exactly the way you are, the way He made you to be. Love you my friend.

  14. floyd

    Great analogy… We are called to be fishers of men, we just tend to worship the boats and the nets instead of the One who provides them.

    In the end it matters zero if the world knows who we are. It only matters that they know our Father, and it’s our blessing to share Him with them. To imagine the lost souls lying on the beach grasping for the life God could have provided is incentive enough to share truth with them. That’s why He’s gifted us to communicate His grace… All for His glory, not ours.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You are so right Floyd, at the end of days it His reputation that remains and ours will be a memory, hopefully one that leaves a legacy of communicating Him well. Appreciate your thoughts.

  15. Celeste Allyn

    Boy Shelly,
    I am sitting here this morning reading ÿour words about a “reminder” but it’s difficult for the tears in my eyes. Then I get stuck on the word fulfilment.
    A good thot for me today.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my, I wish I could give you a big hug and take you out on the town and laugh hard Celeste. I know what you mean about that word fulfillment, I meander way off the course of its meaning sometimes. That day on the beach brought the real truth, the direct path back into my view. I’m walking with you, you are not alone.

  16. Rose

    <3!!! May we be found faithful

  17. Lynn Morrissey

    Precious friend…….I beg your indulgence with the length of this post, but your words moved me so much today. Thank you for your grace.
    Oh dearest Shelly, God really *did* have a Part 2 in mind when He gave you that first message. Part 1: He loves you. Part 2: He loves others as much as He loves you! And you have indicated the Part 3, which is to take the words He gives you as bait to go fishing. You are fishing for men, just like the disciples. It’s up to God to put you before a brook, pond, stream, or ocean, and it’s up to Him how many fish are caught with your bait, but it’s up to you to cast the line…..actually, in your case, lines—lines of words—winsome and wondrous that gleam in the sun and glorify the Son—His words given to you, which will attract fish. I stand amazed at what God showed you on that beach! And can you believe it? FISH was pre-written in the sand, just for you! Of course, it is both a noun and a verb. It’s not enough to love fish, but we need to go fishing with the the bait He gives us.) This was a particular reminder to me in another way. The Lord and I had a significant “meeting” in the late nineties in a chapel, where I had gone alone to pray. I felt drawn to approach the lectern on which a large Bible lay open to John 21. It does contain a story about fish, but my eyes were riveted to the passage where Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep. I was attending a conference where falsehoods where being taught about journaling. It’s as if God were saying to me, too, to feed His sheep the truth. I looked above the Bible to a stained-glass window depicting brightly flashing fish. Underneath were the words, “Feed the hungry.” I knew that the conferees were hungry, but they needed to be fed the truth. I bowed my head in prayer in that solitary chapel, telling Jesus I would feed His sheep with the lowly loaves and fishes of my words, as a writer and speaker, asking Him to multiply them. For reasons too long to detail, after a number of years, I felt that God had told me to put down my pen. But of late, I have sensed He wants me to pay about picking it up again. Seeing your graphic photograph of fish corpses is shocking. I’m applying it, personally, in another way. If He is telling me to use my words now and I don’t, will they atrophy and rot and lay wasted? It’s a different twist, but ultimately the point is similar. We need to use the gifts He’s given to share His truth of salvation, because people are dying. Thank you for a mighty message, Shelly. I’ve taken note.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You always provide a second layer of seeing for me in your comments Lynn. I hope others feel that way too. Like an addendum to my initial thoughts revealing more. Thank you for your generous gits you leave here on the blog, they are rich with meaning.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        YOu are unbelievably gracious. Thank you, Shelly!

  18. kelliwoodford

    yes, this is big. i love when God steps in and reminds us just how small we really are.
    but how even that one small stone, guided by His hand, can bring a world of hurt to the forces of all that is ugly.
    hearing it with you, Shelly, the beckon to deeper fulfillment and lasting peace.
    sweet word.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad to be walking this with you Kelli.

  19. cshocklie

    I read about the fish on the shore. What came to my mind was that Christians used to use the sign of the fish to identify each other. I thought what a confirmation that God is doing something new in the church. I wonder if God is also telling the church to clean up and take her place.

    So you are an online editor now?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love that Cheryl, definitely something to ponder as we seek Him in this new season of planting. Yes, I just accepted the position of Content Editor for the Living the Story column over at BibleDude. Feel really honored to do it. It’s a great site, led by missional thinking which is my heart.

  20. Jeanne Bowser

    I too, am new to your blog and wept when I read the encounter on the beach. God is truly doing a new work in us, the church. It is painful at times and definitely challenging. Thank you for your transparency, as the Holy Spirit reminds us to be about the Father’s business.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Welcome Jeanne, so glad you stopped by and this resonated. I’m in awe of the way God brings his people together.

  21. Laura Eustache

    thank you so much for allowing God to speak through you. this post was right on time for me!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad to know that Laura, glad He led you here.

  22. dukeslee

    Brilliant, in both its writing and depth of thought. I love this, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Jennifer. Good to have you back on American soil. Honored you would stop by here after just returning.

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