The Ocean

Being by the ocean is a totally awesome experience. That’s where I spent my week of vacation.

I love a view where there’s nothing but water as far as my eye can see. I am fascinated by the tides and waves that roll ceaselessly to the shore. A vast expanse of sandy beach is a wonder to behold. The shells and creatures that wash up on the shore are reminders of the variety of life that dwells in the ocean’s depths.

I enjoy watching what people do at the oceanside. Couples walk hand in hand, children play and fashion fantastic creations with sand and sticks, pails and puddles.  Yesterday I saw an elderly couple flying a kite in the high reaches of the wind. I observed a middle aged man sitting on the beach for hours just reading his book. Others lie on towels soaking up the sun. And there are picnickers set up and surrounded by various items of food and drink.  At sunset folks gather on the beach to record the beauty of creation with their photos.

And I love going to sleep at night with the window open as the soothing surf draws me to dreamland and the salty sea breeze caresses my curtains.

The ocean is vast – it’s wide and deep and mysterious. I never tire of walking by the ocean because it reminds me of God’s love. God is always there. I can count on it. Even when it was so foggy the other morning and I couldn’t see the ocean from my window, I knew it was there — I could hear it, I could smell it, I could almost taste the salt in the air. God is like that. Sometimes He is obscured from our view, but He is always present.

The ocean reminds me of other valuable truths. Yesterday I watched some guys in the water working on their surfing skills. The waves were quite big and no one was able to stay on their boards for very long. Between times they were bobbing around – up one wave and down another, at the mercy of the sea. The Bible tells me that in life I must be single-minded and clear about my direction and goals. I must make it my aim to become mature in life and faith. If I lack wisdom I should ask God – and then believe and not doubt. Otherwise, I am like a person blown and tossed back and forth on the waves, uncertain and vulnerable in everything I do. The beginner surfers reminded me of that lesson.

Walking the beach also brings to mind thoughts about the brevity and frailty of my existence. As I meander along in the sand I leave footprints behind – evidence that I have been there … but the signs don’t last for long. Footprints in the sand by the oceanside are there for just a little while and then they are washed away with the next tide. Jesus said something similar about our lives: we are like the flowers of the field – here today and gone tomorrow. I want to make the most of today.

Something else the ocean teaches me is that life is uncertain. Circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, altering our lives forever. So too with the ocean — it’s fickle and unpredictable.  At the various entrances to the beach there are flag poles that fly pennants of various colors depending on the day’s weather conditions. They warn would-be swimmers, surfers and boaters of potential dangers and hazard levels of being in the ocean that day. The conditions could change in a matter of hours. Just walking along the shore this week with my pant legs rolled up I often ended up with wet clothes when a wave would come in bigger and stronger than I anticipated. Then it would recede and I would be lulled into moving closer, only to be splashed again. I needed to be vigilant.

The ocean has many moods … it can be calm and beautiful, then wild and dangerous. It instills wonder and peace but also commands awe-full fear. It is changeable and unpredictable, powerful and terrifying. It can bear us up or drag us down. It proves a faithful friend or a fickle foe. In its midst I need a Rock on which to stand. I need an Anchor to hold me secure.

I’ve learned a lot from the ocean ….and I’m grateful.

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