Lessons From the Limpet
Written by Hervé Irion
God has given us many examples that we can imitate, among both the human world and the natural world. We can even learn from the example of a mollusk!
God uses His creation to teach us important lessons. For instance, He tells sluggards to consider the ways of the ant—to stop being lazy and start being productive (Proverbs 6:6). God also uses the different harvests to demonstrate His great plan of salvation.
But what if I told you the limpet, even though it’s not featured in the Bible, can also teach us important spiritual lessons?
Why the limpet?
The limpet, a mollusk with a conical shell, faces many life-threatening dangers. At low tide, the effects of the sun and wind desiccate it, and seagulls (and some people, unfortunately) try to detach it from its rock and eat it. At high tide, crabs and fish try to make a meal out of it.
Fortunately, God has provided the limpet with a means of protection. It has been equipped with a powerful muscular foot that allows it to adhere firmly to rocks. When threatened, the limpet affixes itself to a rock while trapping seawater under its shell for survival. The rock is everything to the limpet; it grazes upon it and relies on the hard surface to cleave to. The seal it makes with the rock is so strong that, over time, the limpet leaves a visible round imprint.
Cleave to God
As the limpet persistently cleaves to its rock, Christians must cleave to God. Just as the limpet faces certain death if detached from its rock, so would Christians if they become detached from God. We are to depend on God, no matter what occurs (Psalm 18:2; 46:2-3). The Bible encourages us to hold fast, or cleave securely, to God (Deuteronomy 13:4; Joshua 23:8).
When Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses urged them to continue obeying God: “But you that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day” (Deuteronomy 4:4). In other words, Moses was saying that those who had been holding tight to God were those who survived and were about to receive a land of milk and honey.
How to cleave to God
Cleaving to God can be summed up in one word: relationship. Our relationship with God should be the most important relationship in our life. Only by spending time with God and involving Him in our thoughts, words and actions can we enjoy such a relationship. This means being diligent in prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, serving others and putting God first in every aspect of our lives. To learn more about these disciplines, read our articles on “Prayer, Fasting and Meditation.”
Christians must grow in that relationship. How does one grow spiritually? A well-known adage says, “Practice makes perfect.” But practice in doing what? This is where the limpet can teach us another lesson.
Grow from trials
One with an observant eye would notice that limpets closer to the shore are usually bigger than the ones away from the shore. As waves crash upon it and its enemies try to kill it, the limpet locks itself to its rock. Every time it cleaves to its rock, it produces a chemical that generates growth. Because of its daily trials, the limpet becomes bigger and stronger.
Likewise, trials are a part of the Christian life. Trials can come from our own actions, from others’ actions or they can be tests from God to see how we will react or to help us grow. David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
David was so concerned about where his heart was that he even asked God to test him! We need to have the same concern. If there is anything in us that is not of God’s character, we must remove it. We can learn and grow through tests and trials.
A sense of urgency
The limpet is just a snail in the sea. We are God’s children with the potential to become immortal, spirit beings who will help Christ govern the world. We must be diligent to cleave to God always, keeping our relationship strong and growing as we are tested through trials.
To learn more about how to cleave to God, read our article “Relationship With God.”