Serious shellers may think I’m crazy.

Most people who collect seashells no doubt look for the perfect, most beautiful, unbroken specimens. I love finding those colorful, complete shells, too (like the one at right).

But sometimes I also save the ugly, gnarly ones (below right), even if pieces are broken off.

It’s the same with trees. My husband admires a large, symmetrically shaped oak tree growing in the middle of a field. I’m drawn to the misshapen, knobby, ugly ones, especially along a coastline where wind has battered them as they grew.

What sort of storms has that tree seen? And how much did the animal living in that gnarly shell get tossed around while collecting all those “barnacles”? (I’m not sure they are actually barnacles, but they appear to be tiny shells attached to the larger one.)

That’s why I like them as much, if not more, than the perfect ones. The scars represent survival in spite of the trials of life. Each burr or knob or extra shell or missing piece symbolizes a specific challenge.

People bear scars, too–some visible, some hidden. Perhaps the trials you endured were inflicted on you by others, or maybe they are the consequences of your own mistakes, of choosing to ignore God’s will for your life. Either way, your scars are evidence that you have endured.

The Bible says, “A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12, HCSB).

When we place our trust in Jesus, He handles the trials, both those from our past and  the ones in our present. And He’ll be there through our future trials. Then, even though we’re not perfect, He creates something beautiful.