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Of Hermit Crabs and Ceriths (Balitong)

"Actually, I am ashamed to say that I was near burnout at the start of the retreat, burdened with false and true guilt due to my own hang-ups and others' hang-ups about me as a result of the writing ministry.


For the first 2 days, I couldn't read the Bible or pray. All I wanted to do was sleep...and sleep....and sleep....till I took a long walk under the midday sun on the muddy beach at low-tide.


There, the Lord woke me up! What did I see in that one hour?


I saw snail-like creatures called ceriths [they look like the balitong sold in Malaysian wet markets]…thousands of them lying lazily in the sun. At first I thought that they all looked the same. But then I found that some had trails behind them while others didn't have trails. Squatting down under my umbrella, and causing my arthritic left knee to squeeze in pain, I began to scan the beach for clues.....


Ah, there they were:


On a different patch of muddy sand I saw thousands of cerith shells running around madly! Those were not real live ceriths; they were empty cerith shells inhabited by hermit crabs, and, to my amazement, I saw thousands of hermit crabs all running around as if their houses were on fire! Their shells were beautiful to behold; they were of various shapes, sizes and colours! Just as I was about to give thanks for such lovely creatures, a horrifying scene caught my attention....


Four different, beautifully shelled hermit crabs were all fighting for a tiny one with a cerith shell! What was worse was that a rather large one was bullying a much smaller crab by clawing at it in order to get at that particular shell...which...for some reason, all the others wanted!


Then, the Lord gently and firmly whispered in my ears......


`Do you want to be like the ceriths or the hermit crabs?'


`What's the difference, Lord?' I asked innocently.


`Well, take a closer look,' He said. So I did, and this is what I discovered:


 A Hermit Crab A Cerith


1. Carries others' shells. 1. Carries its own shell.


2. Fights for newer shells. 2. Is contented with its own.


3. Runs wildly to attack 3. Moves peacefully and others or to avoid securely at its own attacks. pace.


4. Leaves no trail. 4. Leaves a trail for others to follow.


 


Question:


Guess what I chose?


O what joy to be given permission to be myself,


to carry my own shell


to be real....and even leave a trail that leads to Him!"


"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."


"Yes, Lord, I will be willing to crawl at the pace You give me from now onwards, no matter what others out there do in the marketplace. Please keep me faithful to You alone, I pray."
   
1 Timothy 6:6-10


Reflection:


* Is the above parable relevant to Malaysian Christians?


If so, how? If not, why?


From: "Looking at Creation"
by Lee Bee Teik

 

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