Earlier today I found myself standing with my toes in the sand staring out on the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean from the vantage point of Duck, North Carolina (Outer Banks). My cousins had generously shared their vacation with me, and my husband committed to the intense job of Mr. Mom in addition to his many other duties all week.
Considering we are in the throes of college application deadlines in our home, I couldn’t run for that airport terminal quickly enough! I left three kids, two dogs, two tree frogs, and three caterpillars behind. Begrudgingly, my husband took on frog duty, and I am happy to say that within two days, they captured his heart as he watched them hunt crickets and their little throats vibrate. (If you have not witnessed this, it should go on your bucket list!)
Our view is oceanside. With the sliding door set to screen, we can hear the waves crash to the shore. After days of high winds, we finally made it out to the beach.
With toes dipped in the water alongside my cousin, she offered me a precious memory of her mother, my late aunt, in the waves one summer. I thought about my children playing in the waves on many a beach escape. And if I really went deeper, I knew the waves knew so many of my secrets, dreams, memories, and emotions.
As the ocean water surged to a crest and then spilled over to crash, it looked as if it was responding to a hidden nod that it was time to bend and roll, with a delayed reaction in parts of the line but otherwise mastering uniformity in the landing. An invisible agreement. A knowing.
And I thought about what the waves would speak of, if they could speak about my own life, and what they had witnessed:
- Weeks at the New Jersey shore in the summers of my childhood, frolicking with kids from other families of our church
- The ocean under my plane as I flew into Japan as a 19 year old realizing how long the next few months suddenly seemed
- The disappointment of a Pennsylvania girl used to Eastern seaboard beaches staring out over the shoreline of Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, thinking: “This isn’t home”
- Sobering moments at Pismo Beach, California, in September 2001, just a week after 9/11, looking into the sky wondering what else was coming, was it over, would my 18 month old son grow up in a safe America
- A desperate longing to be engulfed and swallowed up oceanside on a tiny island in the South Pacific as a young, depressed mom of three children
- A weekend in southeast Massachusetts having a long chat with God about past shame, new healing, and fresh life standing with my toes in the water of the New England shore
- My children frolicking along the Gulf of Saint Lawrence at Prince Edward Island watching thrill-seeking teens jumping off the local bridge
The waves have known many seasons of my life. They have pulled back and faithfully returned to my feet. I bet many a life story has been told in ocean moments: families gathered, dogs chasing tennis balls, marriages beginning, boogie boards bringing elated children back to shore, etc. Perhaps your own story has been told in salt-soaked moments of feet sinking in the sand.
One of the most memorable biblical accounts reports the story of Jonah, who spent several days in the ocean. I’m guessing those waves had plenty to say after witnessing the big fish spitting him out. And yet, Jonah speaks to God, who He angered with his disobedience, but when he references the incident, there is comfort in the telling. The water had threatened Jonah’s life, but the Lord brought Him out of the pit.
Jonah 2, ESV
Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.
When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
The Bible often references waves as God’s power. Consider the words of the psalmist:
Psalm 42:7, ESV
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
God’s power is shown as both the waves pouring over His children and His mighty hand stilling the rush of water.
Psalm 89:9, ESV
You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
Maybe you are like what Jude references. You feel the foam of your own shame, and you don’t know how to get out from under it.
Jude 1:13, ESV
…wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
Take comfort in the fear of the Lord. We repent of our shame, and we find His boundaries safe, reassuring, and full of peace.
Jeremiah 5:22, ESV
Do you not fear me? declares the LORD. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
The Apostle John received a revelation of the kingdom of heaven that God let him see in the Spirit. In it he could see that even the creatures of the sea will glorify God. All that is in and under the sea will speak of His glory and might.
Revelation 5:11-13, ESV
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
Imagine if waves could speak of:
Jonah squatting in a fish-gut apartment
Jesus calming the storm at sea
The glory of their Creator in heaven
Would you take comfort in that?
You know what they have in common?
God was present. Close. Active.
If the waves in your life could speak right now, do you know this?
Do you believe it?
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Breakthru Link-up, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, Sunday Thoughts Link-Up, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).