The Outer Shell

February 21, 2006
by Elaine Ingalls Hogg

1 Peter 3:3-4 – What matters is not your outer appearance — the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes — but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. (MSG)

Recently I overheard a conversation in a women's clothing store. "I'm not pretty," the young woman said to her friend.

"Yes you are! Look at how many people you help every day!"

"I don't mean that; I mean my looks," the young woman replied.

The conversation reminded me of a remarkable shell I had admired while travelling in New Zealand. The Paua shell is marked with irregular coloured rings, like those found in a tree stump, exhibiting iridescent shades of blue and green, ranging from sky blue to turquoise and indigo, and used by master craftspeople in jewellery or as inlays in many of the Maori art carvings.

Later, I learned that the shell in its natural state is covered on the outside with seaweed and lime, which acts as a camouflage, concealing its inner beauty.

Before the shell can be used to make jewellery, the outer lime surface is removed by briefly soaking the shell in acid until the lime is softened. Then the craftsman uses a grinder to remove the lime and reveal the inner surface, which in turn can be polished. Unless the craftsperson knew to look for the beauty on the inside, the shell would have been tossed away.

The Paua shell reminds me of how God looks at us. We may be like the young woman in the clothing store and may measure our looks and self-worth by what we see in the mirror, but God looks past the crusty outer shell and sees the amazing beauty that is hidden on the inside.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to realize that You see the inner beauty in every one of us, and if we yield to You, the Master Craftsperson, You will polish us until others will be able to see this beauty too. Amen.

About the author:

Elaine Ingalls Hogg <authorhogg@yahoo.ca>
Smiths Creek, New Brunswick, Canada

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