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Seashell Prayers

March 12, 2008

A few weeks ago I was at my sister Tonya’s house, and we talked about good movies we’d seen recently.

“Oh, Brenda, you’ve got to see this movie that I rented. It’s called Saving Sarah Cain. It’s really good, and I know you’ll like it.”
So last Sunday my husband, Randall, and I decided to rent Saving Sarah Cain. Going down the aisles at the video store, I found the movie in the New Releases section.

It was a great movie—very touching. It is a story of love, sorrow, sacrifice, and redemption. It tells the story of two sisters who’d been placed in an orphanage. They promised each other that they’d always be together. They would go to the beach and pick up the most perfect seashells they could find and say a prayer for each other for each seashell they had.

Sarah’s sister, Ivy, fell in love one day and decided she wanted to become Amish— leaving Sarah all alone. This made Sarah bitter and resentful. Years later, Sarah received a phone call from her sister’s daughter. She informed Sarah that her sister had died, and she told Sarah that she must come to the funeral.

Sarah agreed she would go. She discovered that her sister had five children. Because the children’s father had died a while back in an accident, Sarah was their only living relative. Social services told Sarah she either had to take in her sister’s children, or they’d be awarded to the state and put in an orphanage. The oldest girl pleaded with Sarah not to let this happen, because the child had promised her mother that she’d keep the family together.

So off to New York City the kids went to live with Sarah. Sarah is a highly driven newspaper columnist living in a nice apartment with all the modern conveniences. As you can imagine, these kids weren’t used to dishwashers, electricity, washers, and dryers—it was a real culture shock for them. But they still got up early every morning, had their worship with God, used candles, made a clothesline, and washed the dishes by hand as they were taught.

I don’t want to tell you everything about the movie, because you might want to see it. However, there’s a lesson to be learned from it. The five kids in this story, ranging in age from about 5 to 16 years of age, were brought up to worship God, obey their parents, not lie, and always tell each other everything—regardless of the situation. They were put to the test by having to go into the real world where there was so much negative pressure. No longer were they surrounded by peace, nature, and the quietness that they were used to when they had lived in Pennsylvania. Sarah also learns lessons of forgiveness and sacrifice.

God has called each of us to be different—not to be like the world. In fact, Jesus says in John 17:14 about his followers: “They are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.” (NIV) I’m not saying we have to become Amish, but just think about what it would be like to live somewhere quiet, to live in a place surrounded by nature. Heaven will definitely be that way, and I can’t wait to be able to sit at Jesus’ feet and worship Him in the quietness of nature.

The ending of the movie is really good. Sarah learns how to forgive and to be forgiven. All those years, Sarah allowed bitterness toward her sister to keep her from forgiving. She knows now that she must honor her sister’s memory by allowing her children to live and grow in the world they know best. But, it’s only through the words of her sister’s letter, that Sarah finally learns the truth and realizes she must sacrifice what she knows and loves in order to serve her family (and to save herself). Ivy told Sarah in the letter that every day she got out her metal box of seashells and said a prayer for Sarah for each one of the seashells.

Here is what I hope you take away from reading this blog: if you have a sister, brother, or other family member and things aren’t going well between you, talk it out, pray about it, and work things out. Christ wants us to forgive and to sacrifice ourselves for him and for others. Matthew 6:14 says: “If you forgive men [and women] when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Try saying a seashell prayer for your loved ones each day!

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