I sat motionless on the beach, watching the water’s tide move back and forth across the sugary white sand. This isn’t how I had planned to spend the weekend. I had hoped for a silent retreat, alone on the shore enthralled by the majestic splendor of breathtaking sunsets.
God had other plans.
The sunsets were nonexistent. Oh, there were sunsets, on someone else’s shores…but not mine. Mine were cloaked in overcast skies and gloomy gray clouds weighted down with the heavy load of thunderstorms, not sure if this was the precise right moment to erupt.
As I sat by the water’s edge, two spindly legged birds caught my eye. They were quite a pair. One stationed itself on the beach. Its wiry legs and needle like feet rush back and forth in perfect rhythm to the tide. As the water came in, the bird raced closer inland. As the tide hurried back to sea, the bird chased its moment. It never got in the water. It stayed exactly even with the edge. It worried itself to near exhaustion to not get its feet wet under any circumstances.
Its partner was completely different. This bird flew out over the sea. It hovered, watched, calculated and determined…prey I guess. It hung suspended over the water, only moving at the slightest inclination of whatever it was watching below. Then with the exacting aim of a Kamikaze dive bomber, it plunged with all its might into the water to capture whatever it had been watching so keenly.
I never saw what it captured. If it was a fish, it had to have been very small.
With its prize in beak, this little bird flew to the beach and set the reward of its labor on the exact edge of the shoreline in front of its companion. I watched to see what the companion would do. I naturally assumed this bird would eat the offering, but as far as I could tell, it didn’t. It was just placed on the sand and the two birds began to repeat their routine.
Time slipped by.
Ninety minutes passed that evening. No sunset ever materialized. No cloud unburdened itself. But those birds continued their meticulous routine for the entire time. I presumed it continued long after I left.
I headed back to the hotel room, I had invaded for the weekend hoping to find some peace and resolution to my current dilemma. After three days…nothing. I was beginning to feel I had completely missed God. That my prideful, pharisaical attitude had finally stretched the limit. I was beyond hope. The heavens were brass and God had moved on convinced my stiff-necked rebellious heart was beyond repair. Fasting and prayer did not twist God’s arm to acknowledge me or speak to me.
He is simply God.
That night I continued my ramblings in my journal. The birds came to mind. I thought about how ridiculous their little life was. All day, everyday, hours on the beach doing what…nose diving and racing. How very pointless their existence seemed to me.
“Really?” uttered the Voice I had been desperate to hear. “Do you see them as pointless?”
“Well, yeah, I guess I do,” I responded.
“They were made for My good pleasure. If I need little birds to run back and forth along the shore and their mate to nose dive all day long, it is My decision. I have created billions of angels who simply sing, ‘holy, holy, holy’ all eternity long to Me. It is My will that they sing. All things exist by Me and for My good pleasure.”
“Okay, so boring monotonous birds exist for Your good pleasure. Beautifully voiced angelic choirs rock the heavens for Your good pleasure…but what about me? I don’t feel I exist for any reason other than to make both of us miserable.”
“You exist for My good pleasure. That is why you were created. Remember, I Am, not you.”
I sat there and pondered His words. I didn’t feel I had ever brought pleasure to my King. All I ever brought to Him, especially of late, were worries, fears, anger and disgust over my current situation. How could He ever find any pleasure in me? How could He still love me?
The next morning was Sunday. My retreat had come to a close. There had been no divine interventions and reconciliation to my problems. I hadn’t experienced a pronounced attitude adjustment…I was still just me.
I found a church not too far from my hotel and wandered in. The guest minister spoke on Isaiah 6:1-8. I knew these verses by heart. In my current condition, they only seemed to highlight the despondency I had been feeling with my God.
He spoke on the process of finding our mission in God. First, we must experience His majesty. Like Isaiah, we must be overcome with the awesome greatness of our God. Secondly, we must be struck to the very core of our being at our own misery. Next, we must encounter the incredible mystery of His gracious forgiveness. Finally, when we have walked through those three steps, He can reveal His mission to us.
The pastor’s words wielded the sword of the Spirit straight through my heart.
Before driving home, I stopped once again at the water’s edge. The sky darker than it had been all weekend was electrified with the storm fury about to be released.
Who am I? My very best is as attractive and aromatic as the local landfill, yet He finds pleasure in me in only ways He understands. This makes no sense…because I am not God!
I got into my car and headed back to my reality with a new humility. Watching the waves crest and disappear…I was reminded of Job’s words…we are but waves on the ocean…yet God is mindful of us.
I regained the peace my anxious heart had lost, there, at the water’s edge.
© 5/1/04 Lissa M. Lee