Life's a beach
On that glorious summer afternoon at the beach, life was good. Very good. In
an instant, all that changed.
Several families had met down at the beach for an enjoyable afternoon
together. We girls clowned around in the surf. The only thing thus far to
mar an otherwise perfect day was getting dumped in a breaker. That passed,
the one uncomfortable reminder being a pile of sand in the lining of my
swimmers which I was too modest to try and remove just then! Our mothers
were sitting on the sand, chatting, sipping cold drinks, and enjoying the
day. They were well protected from the sun's bright rays with their
colourful hats, sunglasses and handfuls of sunscreen which they also
liberally slathered on us. The dads and bigger boys were out catching waves
with surfboards or just bodysurfing. The little ones played at the water's
edge under the watchful eyes of their mothers. The salt spray in the air
tasted terrific. Family, friends, fun . all up, it was one of those perfect
Some days, life is like that - a glorious summer afternoon at the beach.
Then, in a flash, it all changed. It was all because of that fellow, unknown
to our group of friends but obviously a regular beachie judging from his tan
and bleached hair. The young man came hopping out of the surf, yelling
At first, I didn't believe him. The afternoon was too perfect. The sun was
shining. He looked healthy enough. As he reached the shallow water, though,
he lifted up his stump of a leg, catching our eyes. "A shark took my leg -
An ice cold vice wrapped around my heart. For what seemed like an eternity,
I was petrified and couldn't move. Then my friends and I ran, screaming
hysterically. Every ounce of energy within us pushed us forward, out of that
dangerous white froth. A friend stumbled. We grabbed her hands, dragging her
toward the safety of the shore. The sun still shone brightly, but it no
longer provided that pleasant warmth of moments earlier. Now the sun was
violent, burning and stark.
The ocean's power is overwhelming. Sure, our parents had lectured about the
importance of staying between the flags, but we were barely cognizant of the
dangers that lurked even within those fluttering symbols of safety. Now
there was a sinister monster out there. Out there too were our fathers,
siblings and friends, oblivious to the danger. Would they also be attacked?
For that matter, there were yet more potential horrors out there. They could
drown, be swept out to sea, injured in the tremendous force of the
Some days, life is like that - when we least expect it, tragedy strikes.
The one-legged young man hopped out of the water, laughing at our terror. He
bounded effortlessly to his brightly patterned beach towel, lying in a loose
bundle on the sand. We stared at his stump of a leg, horrified.
With a flourish, he pulled an artificial lower leg from where it lay within
the folds of his towel. He waved it at our little group of hysterical girls
with a smile and a cursory, "Only joking!"
I glared at him, tears of anger hot in my eyes, furious to have been
tricked, and desperately embarrassed.
I'm older now, and wiser. There are a few lessons which I've learned along
the way from the beach.
Beautiful summer days at the beach remind me of the Creative Power evidenced
in them. "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."
(Westminster Shorter Catechism) I can do that!
As I am dumped in the breakers of life, get sand in my swimmers, or even
find myself attacked by sharks, it helps to focus on the Creative Power who
sustains life. I respond with appropriate fear, recognizing that I am
nothing in and of myself, throwing myself fully on the mercy of the Creator.
When a one-legged man comes hopping out from the surf yelling 'Shark, shark'
, I check for blood before panicking.
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