Leslie carefully wrote the words “The End” in the sand. The grains of sand shifted across her pink polished toenail as she traced the letters with her big toe. She laughed as she gazed out at the powerful Pacific Ocean. People walking on the beach would be puzzled by this cryptic message. The end of what they might ponder. Little would they know it was the end of a woman named Leslie.
The sun was overhead now although obscured by high clouds. She rose from the log she sat upon, and started walking toward the water’s edge. Seagulls scattered out of her way as she strode through the tide. Her pace suggested her determination. As the frothy water swirled around her ankles, she heard a distant voice over the sound of the pounding waves. Leslie realized a young woman heading into the ocean on a September morning, fully dressed, might raise some curiosity, but she was fully attuned to reaching her goal. The voice was coming closer.
“Stop! Are you all right? “A woman’s voice called to her.
Leslie ignored the question and pushed forward as the water came up to her knees.
Suddenly a hand was on her arm.
“Are you okay?” there was concern in the woman’s voice.
Leslie tried to take another step but the hand on her forearm had amazing strength. It was as if a force greater than just this one woman was holding her back. She turned to face the woman who held her by the arm.
“I’m fine. Please leave me be”, Leslie’s voice pleaded.
“I can’t leave you. I’m sorry to interfere but I was taking my morning walk and saw you here, about to walk into the waves. I felt so strongly that I needed to come and speak to you”, the middle-aged woman spoke with emotion.
Suddenly a large wave rolled in knocking both the women down. As the tide raced back out, Leslie struggled to her feet, as did the woman who had stopped her.
“Just come further up on the shore and talk with me. It can’t be so bad. There is always hope”, now the middle- aged lady pleaded with Leslie, both of them soaked with the sea.
All of the desperate emotion of the past year came welling up in Leslie and she turned on this woman with fierceness in her eyes.
“Don’t talk to me about hope,” she shouted, “I’ve heard that all my life and it is a lie. People get sick, people suffer, and people die! Sometimes there is no hope!”
Leslie had stepped toward the women with each angry word and they were now standing further up on the beach, in dry sand.
“I’m sorry for what ever has happened in your life, but God tells us a different story”, the woman continued,” Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and me. When you place your faith in Him you always have hope”.
Leslie laughed,” I am quite familiar with God’s story. My Dad is a Pastor.”
The woman grabbed her hand and held it between her own strong yet soft hands.
“Then you of all people should know the truth”, she said passionately as her gaze searched Leslie’s eyes for a hint of acknowledgement.
“No!” Leslie pulled her hand away, “It isn’t true. This past year has tested my faith, and my faith has let me down!” She turned and ran again towards the water.
The middle-aged woman dashed after her, and in an act of compassionate desperation, she threw herself against the young woman causing both of them to fall into the shallow surf.
“What are you doing?” Leslie sat bewildered in the ocean water.
The woman grabbed her hands again and held them tightly.
“Pray with me!” the woman’s intensity was convincing. Leslie let herself close her eyes and bow her head as this stranger prayed for her to trust in the Lord again. As they both uttered a quiet amen, a soft rain began to fall. The woman put her arm around Leslie’s shoulders and they sat together shivering in the surf of the Pacific Ocean as Leslie added her tears to the tempestuous water.
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