We are in full blown soft shell crab season here on Colington Island. A casual drive along Colington Road reveals rows and rows of shedders all over the place. Shedders are the shallow, open tanks used to harvest the crabs. Blue crabs are placed in water-filled trays and watched carefully until they begin to shed their shells. The shell comes off to facilitate the crab’s growth. When it begins to come off, there is a small window of opportunity to harvest it before the new shell begins to grow. The crabber must retrieve it in an hour or so once the shell has fully peeled off. Soft shell crabs are a fantastic delicacy, as they can be eaten whole in their shell-free state with no pickin’.
Shedding is a 24 hour operation for the crabber. When I drive home at night during the season, I can see the light bulbs that are stung overhead all lit, with crabbers moving to and fro, bent over in their labor. The crabbers must get up (or stay up) every three hours to capture that exact moment when the shell is shed and the crab is ripe for processing. It is a fascinating and lucrative industry.
The entire process is amazing to me. I see my community working hard through the night to provide for their families. I see local restaurants celebrating the harvest with tasty dishes that you can only get here. Colington’s local restaurant, The Salt Box Cafe, sits directly across the street from a row of shedders. You know if you order soft shells there, they were swimming last night!
Two parts of this process capture my imagination.
1. The crab has to shed its shell in order to grow.
2. There is a small, defined opportunity to harvest the crab.
The story of Moses also begins with being “drawn out of the water.” His Hebrew mother had to hide him as an infant in a reed basket and float him down a river so that he wouldn’t be killed. He was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as an Egyptian in the palace. But time came to shed that shell and reclaim his people, so that he might be ready to lead the oppressed Hebrews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. God grew him into a great leader, but not before his old self was shed away.
How about you? Where is God calling you to shed something so that he can grow you into the person he is calling you to be? How about your attitudes? In this politically divisive society, many of us are walking around in hard shells of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” We have settled into the mucky bottom, entrenched in our positions, encased in a shell of self righteousness. God can’t use that. The harder you become, the harder it will be for you to be of any use in the kingdom. And for what? This present darkness will eventually pass in our lifetime. Will your vitriol be worth it in the end? Where do you want to be when the shouting is over? It’s time to shed that shell of hardness toward you neighbor and embody Christ’s peace to the world.
The harvest time is short. We have one brief moment on this planet to either work from a stance of love or a stance of hate. To either build up, or tear down. God is reaching down into the shedder and calling us to leave behind all the nasty posts, the divisive memes, the snappy retorts, and grow the heck up.
The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
You are invited today to become a laborer with Christ, and be a witness to peace, compassion and healing. God calls us to speak words of love into a harassed and helpless world. It’s time to shed anything in your spirit that keeps you from this call. The time is ripe; don’t miss it.