Friday, August 16, 2013

Lessons from a wave

I like to think that I am a person who is easy to please. Simple things give me great pleasure in life, and I am very vocal about my love of them. Ask any of my closest friends, and they will be able to give you a list.

Sweat pants
Bare feet
The beach
A good book
Time with people I love

So, in case you didn't know the quickest way to my you have a list. My friends know, and they often solidify their place in my life through one of these avenues. In fact, my best friend, Sarah, brought me a goody bag filled with things from this list just a few days ago.

I am currently enjoying ALL of the things on my list, thanks to the above mentioned goody bag, and the wonderful thoughtfulness and love of my husband, Heath.

He brought me to the beach for a week. (insert every single form of smiling emoticon here)

There are sun burnt noses and shoulders, sand is a film on everything, its more surprising to see people wearing shoes than not, towels are hanging over every single chair, every little boy has a tan back and a white backside, and when you inhale, you can smell salt even if you're inside.

Sigh. I'm in heaven.

We spend hours on the shore, piling up seashells, building sandcastles, moving our blanket up the beach when the tide comes in, moving it down the beach as the tide goes out, fishing in the surf, watching dolphins swimming by, rinsing our hands so we can eat a snack, rinsing our snack because it dropped in the sand, applying and reapplying sunblock, body surfing on big waves, and baking in the sun.

Yesterday I was siting in the shallow surf, laughing when the kids got bowled over by a wave, smiling as I watched my husband enjoy some fishing time, soaking up some much needed rays, and in general feeling pretty relaxed.

And then, when I wasn't looking, a much bigger wave than those before it crashed over me. I sputtered and spit out sand and salt. I squealed at the shocking cold, and I scrambled quickly to a safer distance, while my kids took the opportunity to laugh hysterically.

A few minutes later, it happened again. But this time I was glad, because the previous wave had left behind a layer of sand, and the next one, while still cold and shocking and carrying its own sand, washed away what the one before it had deposited on my legs and midsection.

And suddenly, in the midst of the screeching birds, crashing surf, frolicking children, and beating sun, came the whisper of the Creator.

The wave crashes. Its shocking sometimes. It takes your breath away. It messes up what you were doing. You want to run from it.


You are washed by the water.

The pain comes, the tragedy takes you by surprise, the anger batters your heart, the anxiety threatens to choke you, your life is turned upside down, or rearranged, or altered forever, and all you want to do is scramble to safety, out of the way of the stabbing, burning, drowning unexpected.

But the waves also wash you. They peel back the layers of your heart. The "I can handle it myself" bravado is shattered, and underneath, "no one needs to know about that" secrets are exposed, and when the next wave comes, it washes those away. And you are left with two choices: fight the waves (which accomplishes nothing, but will exhaust you in about five seconds) or accept their coming, and embrace their work.

God is so clever, building lessons into all of His creation, and whispering its truth to us. The waves pound the shore, and they wash away sand castles, and steal buckets and flip flops and goggles and shells, and get towels wet that were intended to stay dry.

But they also clean the shore, washing away impurities, and they shape the shore, forming it differently than it was the day before.

The Lord is in the waves. They are His mercy, His blessing, His way of shocking us into hearing Him, and then cleaning away the debris that was unearthed by the shock.

So today, when the tide takes me by surprise, I think I'm going to stay where I am, just for a moment, and listen for what the Creator of the waves wants me to hear.

"Even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising, even when the storm comes...I am washed by the water." (song lyrics by Need to Breath)

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