I was at an aquarium the other day and as I was peering into the tanks I saw the oddest of creatures: a purple sea urchin. It looked more like a spiky Koosh ball. These things live as long as 70 years and can be found typically off the Pacific shore. As I stared at this creature, which by nature of creatures is living, I wondered what its purpose was—Why did God make it?
One source says that the purple sea urchin “is both a social and independant organism.” Sometimes it lives in colonies, sometimes by itself. It has little tube feet to move if necessary but most of the time it hangs about feeding on algae and kelp. For humans its biggest use is for sushi. California exports about $80 million worth of it to Japan and other places each year. So did God create the spiky purple sea ball for our sushi? Maybe.
My pondering reminded me of a time I was reading a book and noticed the tiniest little orange book mite making its way across the page I was reading. The thing was practically microscopic. It was no bigger than the period in the sentence I was reading. I had the same question as I did when I saw the purple urchin: What’s its purpose? It’s amazing how much this small microscopic creature brought my thoughts to etherial levels as I looked with great wonder on this tiny living creation. It’s alive so it has a purpose, right? But, I thought, what if this book mite’s very purpose was to remind me of God? Maybe its purpose was to remind me that if God took such care to create this itsy-bitsy being then God must have taken at least as much care to create me. Perhaps the story is the same with the purple sea urchin.
Jesus taught this kind of thing to his followers:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Every part of creation has its purpose, often more than one. While a purple sea urchin and a book mite may serve ecological purposes or serve as food, they also may be reminders to us of God’s love. It’s the same with us, too. Each person serves a function in society, but we’re more than the sum of our parts—to use a cliché phrase. We also are reminders of God’s love to the world. The purple sea urchin has a 70 year life span and we have about the same amount of time to serve that other purpose. And interestingly, like a book mite, we are not always aware of how we touch others’ lives. Sometimes we are, sometimes we’re not. We should pray then that when we’re going about the ordinary business of our lives, somehow, someway, the Holy Spirit can use us to remind others of God’s love, even when we’re not looking.
>> More on purpose from Hugo
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