Martin was tired. It was a good tired though. Jousting with the ocean waves had left him hungry and exhausted. He trudged through the surf to the shore defying the waves that futilely grabbed at him with watery fingers.
He loved the ocean. It was powerful and timeless, constant but ever changing. The breeze, the smell, and the mist were a refreshing retreat away from the concrete roads and sky-scraping buildings that man had built overtop rolling green hills and quiet burbling streams.
Martin breathed in deeply before shuffling to where Jackie was relaxing under a beach umbrella. She had a book in one hand and a glass of iced tea in the other. The two had found this secret spot when they were kids and had sworn never to reveal it anyone. It was a childhood pact they had never broken. Hidden Cove, as they had named it, was barely ten feet of beach space nestled between giant wave-pounded rocks and only existed when the tide was out.
Jackie had been his best friend forever. Their first kiss had been right here at Hidden Cove. Martin felt a tang of regret knowing that soon their paths would separate. Summer was nearly over. Martin would be starting the long road to law school; Jackie’s plans were to stay close to home.
He sauntered through the sand, his toes automatically burrowing beneath the warm sand on top to the cool sand underneath. He plopped down beside Jackie. She placed a marker in her book and set it aside. For a moment they enjoyed the rhythmic sound of the waves.
“So are you all ready for college?” she asked. They were both feeling a nervous awkwardness that was unusual between them. They were at one of life’s turning points. Decisions had been made, but the second guessing wasn’t over yet.
“Yeah, pretty much,” he answered. “I’m not taking a lot of stuff. The dorm rooms aren’t all that big you know.”
Her laugh was a bit forced. “Yeah my dad has told me the horror stories. How the room was so small, he had to go out into the hall just to change his mind. Of course he also told me about the parties every weekend, but you’ll be too busy for that.”
Martin’s smile faded, “Yeah, I suppose. I’ll probably be too busy for a lot of things.”
Jackie put a hand on his arm. “You’re not really set on this are you?”
Martin looked out at the white-capped waves and shook his head, “No, I guess not. All my life I’ve worked for this. My dad’s a lawyer, his dad was a lawyer. I’ll be the third generation at Murphys Law.”
Jackie’s laugh was genuine this time, “I still can’t believe they’ve never changed the name.”
Martin grinned sheepishly. “It’s just one of those things. It’s great for advertising – if you do it right.”
Jackie squeezed his arm gently, “But you don’t really want to do it. “ He stared at the sand, not willing to say those words out loud. Jackie let him think on it and then continued, “You know the verse I love so much - Jeremiah…”
“Jeremiah 29:11” he interrupted with a gentle smile. “Yeah, I know it.”
She smiled. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’* ”
Martin nodded. “I remember when you first shared that verse with me. We were just kids then.”
Jackie valued their friendship enough to push on this, “You do know that’s God speaking, not your dad. Martin, you’re only going to law school to make your dad proud of you. But you need to do what you want to do, otherwise you’re going to miss out on the very best God has for you.”
Martin lay back and stared up in the sky. He knew she was right. But it just wasn’t that simple. He didn’t even know what he really wanted to do. He’d go to law school, get married, have two kids, family vacations at Disneyland - it was all set. It was great; why did it just feel so empty?
He closed his eyes and silently let his heart seek out God, “Lord, help me know the plans you have for me.”
In the calm cadence of the waves, he felt God’s peace speaking, “Martin, I am with you always.”
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