Christina DiMari captivated me with her memoir Ocean Star. It was a tough read, but honest and authentic. After reading, I couldn’t help but be enamored with starfish, the scientific process of regeneration, the need to be connected to our source of life, and our need for others.
Regeneration is the restoration or new growth by an organism of organs, tissues, etc., that have been lost, removed, or injured. A starfish has this restoration ability. If a starfish looses an arm, you can take the two pieces and throw them back into the ocean (the life source) and it will regenerate. A starfish carries its major organs in its arms, so the piece of arm thrown back in has the ability to regenerate into an entirely whole starfish.
I’m sure I learned this in high school or college (picture me with a hopeful face as I say this), but the truth is the power of that fact hit me anew. I’m awestruck. I’ve rehearsed the concept in my mind. Broken pieces. Life source. Regeneration. New growth. Wholeness.
While searching for more information, I stumbled across a youtube video showing the various stages of starfish regeneration. Wide-eyed and fully satisfied the video fed my hunger for more information on the new growth. The video narrator made a casual comment that hung in the hallways of my mind. He said, referring to a starfish that had lost a few limbs, “depending on how well he eats, or his habitat, it may take about a year for him to regenerate.”
How well he eats and his habitat play a role in the starfishes ability to heal. That’s true for people too. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual healing is required our environment and who we surround ourselves with play a role in our process.
Broken pieces of a starfish are not disposable. They are worth something far greater than the individual pieces may initially represent. One broken starfish has the potential to become two whole starfish.
Really the same is true for us. God wants to use our broken pieces. Those seasons that we can’t understand. The suffering that seems so out of line with our attempts at obedience. Ruined relationships, or financial hardships. We can literally throw our broken pieces to Him, our life source, and He will make something new in and through those pieces.
For us it’s called spiritual regeneration. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Cor. 5:17). The believer has a new spiritual identity in Christ. This shifts our focus from the broken pieces-to the hope of the new thing being worked out in and through our lives.
Paul refers to spiritual regeneration as being changed from the inside out in Romans 12. We are changed in our heart and then the changes manifest in our outward appearance and attitude. Without this change, we are like the starfish that remain on the shore, disconnected from our life source. The only changes will be outward and negative. Hardened, dead, and clearly wounded.
The starfish and their ability to regenerate are essential for remembering a few things about us.
First: we will encounter situations that will cause us to break. Not all in the same manner or in the same season.
Second: we won’t all “grow back” in the same way either. Remember the variety of starfish from the youtube video? If you have received Christ, you’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit and He has plans for your life/testimony. Yours may come in the growth of a new ministry, habit, job, perspective, or hope. We can’t want what others have. We have to accept and receive what God’s regeneration will bring in our life.
Third: as the starfish must be returned to the ocean, it’s life source, we must also remain in our life source. Remember the you tube statement, depending on what the starfish eats and its habitat…what we put in our minds and the people we surround ourselves with matter. Are you hooked up to an IV of His word? Surrounded by people who encourage you to walk out His precepts? Then you will find that the new growth He’s doing within you will come.
I have experienced regeneration… spiritually. It’s a difficult process and it wasn’t necessarily as pain-free as I would have liked. However, the new things that have been worked out in my life are of far greater mention then the temporary sufferings.
Let go of the pieces. Throw them back to your source of life and He will make something new with your sacrifice. That’s a hope worth holding onto!