This morning, I sat alone in my living room looking out my window and being happy that dawn was before 7am. I love a quiet time at dawn, an awakening of a soul at the awakening of a day. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to jump right into praise that doesn’t feel empty still so groggy, and seeing the heavens declare the work of His hands makes it so easy to bow a heart.
I often associate the sky with God, but this morning before the sun rose, I was led instead to a beach. I mentally stood at the edge of an ocean and looked out at the magnitude of His creation. I stood there feeling insignificant in comparison to His Glory and realized how much of Himself He has put into that part of His work.
I’m not really a beach person. It’s beautiful and I love to go, but I get bored out of my mind within two days of sitting on sand and leaving to go eat, and sitting on sand, and going to eat, and…you get it. Others love it, I’m okay with that. But another reason that I don’t like beach vacations has to do with a seriously large phobia of mine. Sharks. Sea life. Pretty much anything that is bigger than me and can swim faster than me. WHICH IS EVERYTHING IN THE OCEAN. Jellyfish don’t scare me, but the sting isn’t fun and the probability of getting at least a tiny sting at the beach is high, at least at the beaches I’ve been to. The probability of a shark sighting? even far off? too high for me no matter what it is. Those are just risks that make my vacation so so far from relaxing.
But risks are a part of Him too. The difference in the sky and ocean is that I can see a plane flying in the sky thousands of feet away. I can watch a storm rolling in. In the ocean, you can never be certain of what is even a few feet from you, much less thousands of feet away or under you, which can be unsettling. It’s a vast mystery of beauty and majesty and creation. Just like God. So many things about God are so clear to us, but only because He has revealed those. Because we stand at the shallow end of a clear beach and gaze into those things He has revealed. But there are so many plans for us and good works hidden away for now in the depths of His majesty that haven’t been revealed. They’re hidden away because from our view from the beach, those things may not look so “good.” Trust me, if you had asked me 7 years ago if three children in 4.5 years would be a good plan from God for me, or if overseas missions living single would be better, I would have chosen door number 2. Praise Him that He knows what is better for each of us. But that’s just it. Surrendering to His will is a bit of a risk for someone saturated in American culture and society. You don’t know what is out there. And the ocean is not a lake or even river. You get out into it and you don’t just bob up and down in the same place and swim where you will. You are pulled and pushed along in the currents of its power. You can sometimes swim against the current and go where you want, but it is exhausting and sometimes impossible. But imagine if the ocean was filled with only good things…cuz sharks aren’t good, y’all. I don’t care what London says, I don’t care if they would be kind and gentle and plant eaters, I don’t want them in Heaven. 😉
But imagine if the ocean was filled with sometimes hard, but always good things, and those currents were slow and soft at times, and at times strong and powerful, like our ocean, but instead of pulling you down to danger, those currents, even if frightening, were only going to pull you to more good. To plans He has for you that are for your good and not for harm?
You can stand at the edge of the ocean, covered in sand, and let the waters lap at your feet…even up to your knees. But that is no way to get the sand off. Have you ever watched those people at the beach? The ones that stand in ankle high water, bending over and whenever the waves come in, they scoop as much water in their hands as possible to try wiping off the sand on their arms, shoulders, entire body? …..so. many. people. I have no idea why it doesn’t occur to people to wade in deeper and spend a fraction of the time. But they don’t want to get wet. They don’t want to go in that far, or get pulled out too far, or get into the unknown with unknown things. Sounds a bit like the church at times, eh? Because I’ve seen even more people try to stand at the edge of His Grace and get a little Jesus when the waves come in, when the emotions rolls. When they go to church, when they go to a Bible study, when the worship team plays that one song with the emotional climax at the end, whichever. They try scooping up as much as they can of this Living Water and trying to cleanse themselves but it just doesn’t work. You end up forever scooping and wiping, scooping and wiping.
I get it. Sometimes they don’t want to jump in because they don’t want to be one of those people. (You know the kind. The ones that are just out there far off swimming around in the ocean like it’s a swimming pool. The ones I watch like a hawk waiting for one to go under from a current or shark. Geez Louise people, get into the pool before you die!!!) But, though those people look crazy and might be a bit to our standards, no one is enjoying the ocean like they are. No one. And sometimes the risk of a life dying to self looks insane from someone on the beach. And sometimes the risk of things He could ask of you that you can’t foresee are uncomfortable. Like the time a sea turtle swam past me in Mexico. Umm beautiful, but the surprise of it was uncomfortable to me, though I look back and am amazed and grateful that it happened.
The point is, that like the ocean, God is mysterious and awesome in every sense of the word. But more than that, He is life-giving and good. Majestic and glorious. But one can never truly experience that standing on the beach. You have to get in. The words for ocean in Hebrew in the Old Testament all mean deep, abyss, unknown. You may not know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, but He has promised that it is good.
It reminds me of that quote from Narnia:
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”