I sit on a beach on North Stradbroke Island at the end of a Queensland winter. The fine sand cushions my feet while a cool southerly breeze plays with my hair. Sunlight sparkles on the waves as I watch my daughter jumping in the surf.
“Come on in!” she calls, vines of wet hair clinging to her neck and shoulders.
I shake my head with a smile. “Too cold!”
“It isn’t!” she laughs, throwing diamond splashes of water in the air. “It’s beautiful!”
I’ve heard that before. I’m not convinced. Her cajoling continues though, and before too long I leave my comfortable perch and begrudgingly walk toward the ocean.
A swathe of salt water sprawls over my toes and I recoil. It is cold, almost icy. I try again, the flowing wet sliver greeting me, retreating, darting back again to see my response.
“It’s freezing!” I call out to my daughter, who simply laughs and beckons me closer. I gingerly go deeper, until I am wading, the cold wetness buffeting my legs. My bravado propels me rather than a desire to be there, but whatever my motivation, gradually I am immersed.
The ocean surges around me now, taking my breath away. One second I am being pushed by a great swell, the next, I am held in an aquatic embrace. Water effervesces around me from below, rising to the rolling surface.
I am awash with vibrancy… liquid rushes around me and under me, and salty spray drips from my face.
Like my daughter, I too, have sodden hair sticking to my skin, flicking in my eyes, and circling my neck. Somehow the cold has changed to a warmth of energy with the ocean surges so my pores are tingling. This is an adrenalin rush purer than any theme park ride. I’m glad I changed my mind and made the decision to take the plunge.
The song “Stones and Sea”* talks of seeking contentment collecting stones on the seashore, while beside us beckons the vastness of the ocean: “You’re missing precious things – raise your eyes and look towards the sea.”
In the swirling waves, I think of this allegory and I think of God. I allow myself to be buffeted and rocked by the swells. I think of He who pulses the ocean with His power. I imagine His love surrounding me and invigorating me.
Later that day we drive around the headland, and from a high vantage point we watch the expanse of sea, heaving and rolling as far as the horizon. At night we sleep in a tent on the foreshore, and in the darkness of early morning, I awake and hear the thunderous crash of waves relentlessly calling.
It’s true. Too easily we try to satisfy ourselves with the pebbles and sand of life. Our home, work, family and community activities are all valuable things and can bring a certain level of fulfillment. But there is more – so much more - to life.
We cannot begin to comprehend it on a purely intellectual level. Like me on the shore, worrying about the cold, we can be put off by a negative perception of church or religious people.
But God calls to us relentlessly, calls for us to be with Him. Instead of dallying at the water’s edge, when we fully immerse ourselves in God we come alive. Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10, Good News Bible).
When we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit, are sustained by the Bible – God’s living Word - and surround ourselves with true, godly people, we begin to experience the reality of the greatness and vastness of God. In turn, our own lives become richer and fuller than we could ever imagine and we have something real we can share with those around us.
“Come on in. It’s beautiful.”
* By Eden's Bridge
(Originally published in "Record" -www.record.net.au - on November 26, 2005)
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This is amazing, it's true we are on the same wavelength, but this article is astounding. I read it and wanted to cry, because it's so true, such trivial matters tend to corrupt and run our lives, when we could look to the ocean! Or the wholething, kind of like looking at the world instead of just California :) Thankyou for welcoming me. God bless.