My husband, Dee and I, have spent the past week on the quaint little island of St. George – south of Panama City out in the Gulf. It’s a quiet place to go, especially after Labor day, and has been one of our favorite vacation spots since our children were small. I had great plans for the week – so many things I wanted to do but alas, God had other plans. I’ve been sick for the last couple of weeks and ended up at the doctor and came to Florida still on antibiotics. Did you know you can’t take antibiotics and stay out in the sun? Yeah – I found that out on day two. I honestly have not felt like doing the things I had planned – no running – no paddle-boarding – no kayaking, but a lot of walking the beach. You see God forced me to slow down and in the process, as the scripture says, has “restored my sou.” As I’ve walked the beach, God has opened my eyes to the nature around me and taught me a few lessons along the way. Thought I would share those with you.
#1 – Are you fishing correctly?
The first day here I was sitting on the deck and noticed a girl from the house next door fishing at the edge of the ocean. She was standing with her feet barely in the surf casting away. I will say, the girl was tenacious – she was there a loonnnggg time and kept casting and reeling in with no results. Finally, one of her buddies came out and told her she needed to actually get into the ocean to catch some fish. She waded on out into the ocean and finally caught a fish. She stood there with the poor fish dangling from her line and you could tell she honestly didn’t know what to do with it. All her friends had deserted her and she stood there looking pitiful. I couldn’t help but think how many of us “fishers of men” are too afraid, like her, to go step into the ocean, to go to the places we need to go in order to catch fish. We go to church on Sunday or VBS and expect God to hand us someone visiting in our own parking lot. How many of us miss opportunities because we’re not going out into the world to tell people about Jesus? And do you know what to do when you “catch one”? In Treehouse, we use the Super Ninja Gummy Bear as an evangelical tool to tell others about Jesus. The kids are told to do the BEAR which stands for Be Eager And Ready. Are you ready? Do you know how to tell someone about your Jesus?
As I walk the beach in the afternoon, there is a myriad of footprints, pawprints and holes in the sand. As the surf comes in, you can walk that same strip and it’s a clean slate. As each wave rolled in, I couldn’t help but think how relevant that was to our lives. We mar up our lives on a daily if not hourly basis but through the grace of God, we can confess our sins and we get a clean slate. I don’t know about you but it makes me sad to think of all the stupid mistakes I’ve made. How wonderful to have the forgiveness that only God can give. “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
#3 – God can use imperfection
I love to pick up shells. I have walked miles of beach this week and have acquired some really cool specimens. I will be honest – I don’t look for perfection. I look for the unusual shapes, colors, and textures. One of my family’s favorite things to do is to build a sea shell sculpture. Every trip to the beach involves a mermaid or sea turtle made out of sand and shells. This year, we did a sea horse. I walked up and down the beach and picked up shells and fragments of shells. We sculpted the seahorse from sand and embellished it with the shells. Turned out pretty cool. I couldn’t help but think about Isaiah. He felt he was too sin ridden and unclean to benefit God’s work. But God cleansed him of his imperfection and used him in a tremendous way. Just like we used the flawed shells to make something beautiful – God can take our flawed lives and use us in amazing ways. What a comfort it is to know even though I am horribly human, God can still be glorified. How wonderful it is to have a God that is willing to use someone so flawed. We live in a world that demands perfection and yet God loves us just the way we are. Shouldn’t we strive to be more like Him?
#4 To get a treasure, something had to die
As I stated, I love to shell. I have a pile of shells on my deck that I’ve cleaned and are drying out waiting to come home with me. As we walk the beach, we always see who can come up with the best treasure of the day. One day as we were walking, Dee handed me a perfect oyster shell – still hinged in the middle. He had found that day’s treasure. Then it struck me – in order for me to have this treasure, the small creature who lived inside had to die. Immediately, I thought of Jesus. Just like this tiny sea creature, Jesus died so I can have my eternal treasure in heaven. How often do we really stop and think about that? Do we continually take it all for granted? We know the words; we know the story; we sing about it; we talk about it but have you ever really thought about it? He died and I don’t have to. I get a mansion in a city of gold because of Him. How huge is that?
I love these aha moments in my life and I love the fact that God is continually giving me these moments. How wonderfully amazing is this world that God created that keeps me ever in awe.
“Let everyone stand in awe of Him.” Psalms 33:8