How a Blue Starfish Taught Me Something

Underwater, a blue starfish lays sprawled out on a Papua New Guinean coral reef.

One of the perks of serving Bibleless people in Papua New Guinea is that I lived in one of the best snorkel spots in the world. The underwater world God created is magnificent, and I never tired of floating above a coral reef and watching an endless variety of sea life.

One of my favorites is the blue starfish. A snorkel outing never quite felt complete unless I spotted at least one. Some days that’s all I saw — just one. On others I saw so many that I stopped counting after the first 20 or so. One time I saw several hundred all at once, congregating so closely that their tentacles touched.

I saw these beauties sprawled on the ocean floor, clinging to the side of a hunk of coral, crammed into crevices, and tucked away almost invisibly under another form of ocean life.

Wherever I saw the blue starfish as I swam away from my starting point, that’s where they still were when I swam back. I know that starfish move, because on subsequent snorkel outings they were never in the same places, and sometimes they didn’t seem to be anywhere at all. So yes, I know they move. But I’d never actually seen that happen. 

God used my fascination with a blue starfish to remind me of a truth I tend to forget.

One day, many years into my snorkeling life, I spotted a starfish in an unusual position. Curious, I watched it. And watched. For at least 15 minutes, maybe 20. And as I watched, it moved. Just a little. But it did move, and I did see it.

Adjusting My Perspective

The spiritual needs in Papua New Guinea are enormous. Sometimes I could clearly see God working as our team did our part to help meet those needs. At other times it appeared that nothing was happening. I felt impatient. I wanted to see progress in translation and literacy. I wanted to see transformation happening in this community I love so deeply. 

That day on the reef, God used a blue starfish to adjust my perspective. He reminded me that He was — and still is — always on the move, working to accomplish His purposes. He also reminded me to keep my eyes open to see the small, sometimes almost imperceptible ways that He was — and still is — at work in this beautiful place.

Eunice Herchenroeder
Eunice served in Papua New Guinea as wife, mom, missionary care facilitator, and in many other roles. She now leads a team of writers and editors at Pioneer Bible Translators’ International Service Center in Texas. She and her husband Mike have three adult children.
See All Posts by Eunice Herchenroeder

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