United Church of God

Treasure Digest: The Chambered Nautilus

You are here

Treasure Digest

The Chambered Nautilus

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


"Year after year beheld the silent toil
"That spread his lustrous coil;
"Still, as the spiral grew,
"He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
"Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
"Built up its idle door,
"Stretched in his last found home, and knew the old no more."

This quote from "The Chambered Nautilus" by Oliver Wendell Holmes speaks of how the nautilus, as it grows, enlarges its shell to accommodate its new size. As it forms a larger chamber, it seals off the one behind with a wall that prevents it from returning to its old home.

We, as Christians, are told to always press forward, not looking back, sealing off, as it were, the past. In Luke 9:62 Jesus says, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

The John Templeton Foundation, dedicated to continued work in scientific inquiry and innovation, chose the nautilus as its symbol.

The nautilus continually grows, always living in the outermost chamber of its house. Each new room is exactly 6.3 percent larger than the last and its shell grows in a mathematically perfect proportion. It grows in perfection as we also are to grow toward perfection.

Paul says of himself, "but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Like Paul, we also need to wall off the past and create a "new room" in which to live.

"Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
"As the swift seasons roll!
"Leave thy low-vaulted past!
"Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
"Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
"Till thou at length art free,
"Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!"
—"The Chambered Nautilus"