One night while on a trip to the ocean, my family walked the beach at low tide looking for shells using a flashlight. As we searched, we were excited to find several intact sand dollars, but after picking up the second one my son stopped me. He told me that one was still alive. I had never seen a live sand dollar, I was intrigued. “How do you tell?” I asked. He showed me that they were darker; the dead ones were whiter. He also told me to feel the weight and as he shined his flashlight on it I noticed the edges shimmered as if reflecting the light, but he explained that is was the spine. It had small spine-like features that were moving, and if you held real still you could feel that movement. We examined the creature and then returned it to the water's edge. We would not kill one of God's creatures for the sake of the shell. We continued down the beach finding many more as we went, but only keeping those that we knew weren't alive.
For the next few days I continued to consider this experience, and it reminded me of God's calling. Matthew 22:14 says that “many are called, but few are chosen.” Many people are called by God, they are drawn and want to learn more about God's way and their eyes begin to open to His truths, revealed by the light of Jesus Christ. However, some people do not want to change their ways to follow God. Like the living sand dollars, they return to their regular lives and God lets them go.
Others hear God's calling and move forward wanting more and more of what God is offering. Eventually, they decide to put off the old man: “You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).
Those who choose to renew themselves must change who they are and the old must die away. “Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness,” and “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” (Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 6:6-7).
A Christian needs to let the old man die so that he or she can be prepared for a new home with Christ–the coming Kingdom of God. "'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.' And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’" And he said to me, 'These are the true sayings of God'” (Revelation 19:7-9).
While releasing the living sand dollars to the ocean was the right thing to do, when it comes to God's calling, the best thing to do is to let the old self die. The death of the sand dollar meant I could enjoy the new form it had taken and bring it home with me to enjoy its beauty for days to come. A Christian also becomes a new being chosen by God from a sea of people. To be forever changed into a thing of beauty at Christ's return.