I am not a beach bum, nor am I even a candidate, but here I am, taken in completely by all that the five senses are given to sample. In fact, my body and accessories clearly betray my landlubber’s life. More specifically, the life of a farm dweller, gardener, chief cook and bottle washer has borne the body of anything but a bathing beauty. Yet, there is something so inspiring about the ocean that standing there, I feel my body and soul being swayed and mesmerized. I am suddenly one with the sand, the waves, and the wind. I hear waves of the Spirit speaking, I taste the salty air of desire to never leave, I see a sample of the mighty expanse of creation I’ve only begun to experience. I smell a myriad of odors so unique to the ocean, and I wonder if the incense of world prayers go up in a similar mix. And I feel – oh do we ever feel – warm sand and sun, cool breezes, emotions inexplicable, tickled with the presence of everything out of our ordinary.
At first, I feel terribly heavy and unsteady as I walk in the moving sand. But then it begins to work its magic; the warmth, the designs left by all who’ve touched it, and as the waves roll over my feet I feel myself settling in, anchored by the sand that has shifted around to cradle my feet. Magic. And I wonder, how does it know where to stop, to keep from sweeping all the world right off its feet? In another couple of engulfing waves, my feet begin to feel trapped and I know that it was a false feeling of stability.
I like to sit in one of those short chairs, just barely clearing the sand, you know the ones that some of us find more difficult to get up out of than to drop down into – just in reach of the waves. Some waves reach your feet, cooling, refreshing, tantalizing you to stay and enjoy; to experience the thrill of what treasures may be washed into your hands. Others surprise you and before you know it, you are up to your chest in a splash of salt, sand and shrieks of joy. But evening advances and brings with it higher waters until we gradually become engulfed by the ocean if we don’t move out of its way. A likeness of which we may see in the world as it will surely advance little by little, with pretentious promises of pleasure, shrieking our names, calling us out into it to be drowned in its pride and passions.
How often do we stand amid the world, allowing it to wash over and around us until we are near helpless to pull apart from its hold? Our God, Who created all this foreverness of ocean prevented the waves from joining hands and making one devastatingly powerful wash that would wipe out an entire landscape. He set limits to where the waves may wash. (“Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’ “ Job 38: 8-11 NKJV) And, He has set boundaries for how much the prince and powers of this world may overtake His people today. (“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. I Cor. 10:13) Aside from how absolutely beautiful these waves are, there is admittedly the potential for ugly brute force. As long as we remember to be “in the world”, (or in the ocean waves), and not be “of the world”, (or to be overcome by the waves), we are safe. People on coastlands are cautioned, though sometimes too late, or unheeded, to move to safer, higher grounds and be saved from the mighty rushing water. And so are we cautioned; our magnificent creator didn’t leave us alone to sink or swim. He handed us the ultimate guide in safety; because He knew we would necessarily as well as by choice, be in the world, just as I simply cannot stay out of the ocean.
In any case, from rising flood waters to the frolicking waves at beach’s edge, there is safety in holding onto something stable, of moving back up the beach, out of the reach of the waves. Likewise, the Saviour lugged the heavy cross of salvation to lift us up out of the world, that we may be in it, able to enjoy the awesome variety and wonders of the natural world, but remain unspotted by the wickedness of it.(Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 ESV) We can be in it, exert influence, help and heal, and by the grace of God, be brought out. Out of satan’s reach, out of the sinking sand, raised to walk on higher ground, by the blood of Jesus, praise His name!
From the song “Sun of my Soul”, words by John Keble (w. 1820): “…til in the ocean of thy love, we lose ourselves in heaven above.”