Things I Learned At the Beach
The day before we left for vacation, we received some very disheartening news from the job front. Anxious to be with family, we left before dawn the next morning. I had thought that we would have our future all neatly tied up by this time and that we could spend our family vacation relaxing and looking forward to the next stage. But now our future was as dark and murky as the open sea.
One of the first things I read at the beach was this, in Gift from the Sea ::
The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.
In a state of helplessness, I asked God to give me this openness, so that I would be able to learn what it was he wanted me to know.
One night, Logan and I sat in the living room with his brother and sister-in-law and talked into the night. They asked us good questions, drawing out our raw emotions and we heard ourselves speak words of utter honesty. We spoke about our disappointment, our bewilderment. “What the heck just happened to our lives?” we cried out.
At one point, we talked about how we had only ever been praying and hoping that the right thing would happen, that God’s will would be done.
“Maybe you’re still too tender to hear this,” Logan’s brother said, “but even though you said you wanted the will of God, your response shows that what you actually wanted was the stability of a job as soon as possible.”
His words rang true in my heart. It couldn’t be denied. Later that week I read an article that Logan’s mom gave me from Christianity Today called “Blindsided by God”. Peter Chin writes ::
Suffering shakes you with such force that it separates your true thoughts and beliefs from anything to which you simply pay lip service. This process is painful, no doubt. But without it, it is impossible to know where our beliefs fall short of what Scripture truly teaches.
As my friend Leah says, I had been following the HOW instead of the WHO. I wasn’t as concerned with God himself as I was about how I was going to serve him. I wanted to know the how, wanted to have a plan and feel security in what I did, instead of seeking security in the Rock, the Good Shepherd, my heavenly Father.
We sang this song at church on Sunday ::
You are God You are God
Of all else I’m letting go
It makes me think of Abraham, offering Isaac on the alter. Isaac was his future, the future that God Himself had laid out for him. All of his godly hopes and dreams were wrapped up in that little boy and yet, without a moment’s pause, Abraham offered him up to God. Abraham didn’t have false ties to the promises of God. He was bound to God himself. He wasn’t placing his security and dreams in the blessings God gave him, but rather in God’s Word. This is an amazing testimony to me. It’s so easy to find security in things like a job or a paycheck, when really, it’s God who provides for us, not money. It’s so easy for me to value the work I do for God, instead of ascribing all value and worth to God and God alone.
I have so many idols that I worship.
Like faithless Israel, I’m always returning to worthless idols. And God leads me back, sometimes gently, sometimes with great and decisive force. And I’m so very grateful that he cares enough about this wandering heart to keep disciplining and refining it.
(Photo by Kurt Rahn)