A crab’s life is a continual cycle of growing and molting. The crab’s body grows too large for his shell. The shell hinders him, restricts him, keeps him from moving freely, from being all that he was designed to be. His constricting shell steals his speed so that he is unable to outrun predators. He must molt, over and over and over throughout his life.
As he prepares to molt, his shell begins to dissolve, growing thinner and thinner. Salts are gradually pulled from the old shell, then recycled and stored in the body. A new soft inner shell is forming, growing underneath the existing shell.
As the shedding begins, he becomes stressed and vulnerable, an easy target for his predators. He must find a safe place, a refuge of sorts to make his exit out of his constraining shell. He isolates himself and prepares to molt. Rapidly absorbing large amounts of water, the tissues in his body swell, putting pressure on the old shell.
The shell slowly cracks open along the fracture planes, and he begins the slow arduous process of backing out of his old shell. He discards the shell and again, pumps his body full of water, inflating the soft vulnerable shell to its new size. The salts absorbed from the old shell are redeposited into the new shell causing it to thicken.
His shell will not harden unless he is submerged in water, so he remains underwater, waiting patiently until it thickens and hardens his shell. He can then withstand attacks from his enemies and is able to move more freely than before. He reenters his environment, and shortly thereafter, the process will begin all over again. A lifetime of growing and molting. Such is the life of a crab.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders,” Paul says, “and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us.” Let me cast off this shell that burdens me and hinders my growth and movement. “It is time to grow,” God says. “Time to let go of the lies you have believed for so long. Do you really believe my words are true about you? You believe the words about Me but do you believe the words about you? Time to let go of the doubts that limit your growth and keep you from running full speed ahead toward me.”
The question God asks is “Do you really want to grow? Do you really want to cast aside the old shell?" Yes, I do Lord but the process, the process seems too long and arduous. It’s comfortable yet constricting here in this old shell. I know this way. What is this feeling that makes me want to stay here, the feeling that brings the fear of change when I know I cannot grow without it. My flesh wants to hang on to the old shell, to what is familiar but stifling. I feel stuck at times, unable to back out of the old shell.
So I get away with you, Lord. I sit in quiet, seeking, waiting for you to do your work. “Wait for the Lord”, I hear. “Be strong and of good courage. Do not lose heart." You remind me of your Word, you pump me full of living water, of your words, of your beautiful truths about me and about you. My heart swells. The shell cannot withstand the pressure. The fracture planes break in my hardened shell, and I begin the arduous climb out. Backward climbing, not forward climbing. Unable to see where I am stepping, you assure me it is safe. I trust you, Father.
My shell underneath is soft, vulnerable, not yet conditioned for the darts of the world, not yet strong enough to withstand the attacks from the enemy. So I remain in living water, trusting your timing, Father. Waiting. Waiting. Hiding in you Lord.
“Remain in me,” You whisper. Your shell will not thicken if you do not." I wait for the shell to solidify, for the truths to sink deep into the recesses of my heart. Your timing Lord, not mine.
"Nothing has been wasted," God says. "Those truths you learned even from your failures, have not been discarded with the old shell. Only that which you no longer need to grow is gone. The rest I am recycling, using what seemed like waste to bring about something new." Old salts pulled from the old shell, stored up to thicken the new. A salty shell. The flavor of Christ. Truths learned through brokenness. The making of all things new. Thicken this shell, this breastplate of righteousness, Lord. Thicken those truths and give me bold confidence to run full speed ahead with you. I taste the joy and freedom on the other side of the molt.
Father, let me accept this continual process of molting and growing. Let me embrace even the pain involved because, Lord, I know that you are achieving something far greater than my eyes can see. “Let me throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let me run with perseverance the race marked out for me. “ It is for my good and for your glory.” In Jesus Name. Amen