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Sorting the Significant By the Sea

March 27, 2012

By: Carole D. Hicks (March 2012)

Sometimes the stress and busyness of life can become so overwhelming that a body just can’t think straight.  I feel lucky that at least at this point in my life, I’m able to recognize when the “overwhelming-ness” is taking hold and recall effective ways and means to deal with it.

I have to admit that were I more proactive in “dealing with” on a daily basis, then it might not be an issue at all.  But alas, I’m not THAT advanced … I’m still learning.

When we become encumbered with or are faced to battle the “shtuff” in life, we have two choices (they say).  Fight or flee.  One denotes confronting the issue and the other denotes running away.  I (and most who know me) would say that I lean more to the “confront.”  Matter of fact, it is my honest opinion that “getting all the issues on the table” or “calling them out by name” at least helps you know what you are dealing with.  Ignoring or running away, or just being passive usually only leads to whatever the problem is … to fester more and more until you are dealing with a full-blown, relationship destroying infection in the matter.

I don’t lean to the passive side.  I’m not prone to middle of the road or riding the fence.  But every now and then, stepping away from a situation (even running away) can provide the clarity needed to go back and “deal” (or confront) with greater perspective.

So, when I need that kind of clarity … I flee to the water’s edge to seek and wait for direction from the Lord.  Sometimes that water’s edge is a creek bank … sometimes it’s driving along the banks of the river … and sometimes it is sitting on the beach by the sea.  While stress and tension and conflict can deplete and dehydrate a soul to near death —- LIVING WATER is available to replenish and provide renewed sustenance … a spiritual time of refreshing with The Creator!

Recently a friend of mine (upon noticing my pilgrimage to the coast), offered this analogy of why this means of respite works. 

“The enormity and timelessness of the sea helps one sort the significant and the insignificant.” ~Bob Bryant.

Truer words have never rang more true than upon my recent trip to the beach.

As soon as possible upon arrival, with prayer journal and pen in hand, I trekked down to the beach and found a comfortable lounge chair to sit and wait to hear from my Lord.  It was cold on this March evening, and the sky was overcast with dark and ominous clouds.  Further inland, storms had been brewing throughout the day.  These clouds surrounded me like a horseshoe on each side and to my back. But looking in front of me, there were only a few scattered, marshmallow type clouds and the sky was blue.

About a mile down the beach, rain clouds were meeting the shore.  The wind was blowing and now and then a slight hint of lightening. The storm was there, and not to be ignored.  Only a few folks remained on the beach, and some of them were gathering their things, pointing to the obvious rain and regrettably making their way back to the hotel.

But I’m not quite ready to give in to the clouds.  I just want to sit … and be still.

“Life is a bit like this. Huh, Lord?” I point out in prayerful conversation.  

Depending upon the direction that one is focusing … I know that this storm will pass, and I’m choosing the view in front of me.  With retrospect, we also know that the storms in life will pass … but too often we can’t keep our focus on the view ahead for worrying about the stress that surrounds us.

I began to chill from the cold winds so I covered myself with a beach towel in order to stay by the sea.  I could endure the cold a bit longer in order to be here.

“Same with life, right, Lord?”

When hopefulness and peacefulness of life are “overcast” by clouds of doubt, fear or lack of control, we have to be willing to endure the “chill” in order to experience the magnificence of warmth and brightness of the Son.

While sitting there amidst the winds and the clouds, I was reminded that there was literally nothing I could do about the stormy weather that surrounded me.  The only control I had in the situation was to pack up and go inside. But who wants to be inside when you are at the beach?

“Trust Me. The storm will pass.” I heard my Creator say.

“Will it pass in time for me to enjoy this time without being soaked or in danger of being struck by lightning?”  I asked Him.

“What if it doesn’t?  Can you still find joy?” He asked me rather pointedly. “Or, better yet, is what you seek even worth the wait?”

Looking ahead of me, I breathe a sigh of relief and say, “It sure is bright beyond the storm, Lord.  I do believe it is worth the wait.”

“Is it worth going through a storm?”  He asked.

Hmmmmm?  I know that it is because I quickly recalled past storms that I’ve experienced and how anxious I felt in the midst of them, but how wonderfully alive I felt after passing through.

“I trust that it is, Lord.  I know that it is!” I declared.

“Then why, My Child, do you worry about bad weather. Keep trusting.”

About 25 feet from where I was sitting, a middle-aged couple (grandparents) and two young children arrived on the beach.  Within a minute or two, the grandfather, seemingly oblivious to the storms behind him, puts their kite to flight. It only took a few seconds for it to soar overhead, and he calls his grandson to his side, and helps him work the string so the kite can go higher and higher.

Suddenly, there is clarity in my sorting of the significant. This grandfather-grandson moment may seem insignificant to some, but it is the most significant thing taking place on the beach for me. Yes, there was a storm behind them … and they probably would not get to fly their kite very long.  But for those few moments, a precious memory … a significant memory … was being made. It was clear as the bright blue sky in front of us … and the smile of joy on the little boy’s (and the grandfather’s face).

Yes, Lord. Worth the wait!

Back in my hotel room, sitting at the desk with the sliding doors open, still mesmerized by the vast blue ocean, I know that behind the hotel it’s raining and dreary.  But the view in front of me is nothing short of incredible.

The sky is painted with hues of blue and subtle pinks and violet as the sun reflects the water, the rain and the marshmallow clouds.  If I step out and look backwards, it’s gloomy.  So I stay focused on what’s ahead.

Now the beach is vacant of “vacationers” except … for a gaggle of seagulls and two obviously, invincible, “BFFs” about the age of fourteen, frolicking in the waves that beat against the shore.  They squeal with anticipation and thrill as the water knocks them off their feet.

Two fairly, insignificant spectacles … the birds AND the BFFs … involved with one of the most significant and powerful forces in creation.  I don’t even think these two girls know (or care) that they are the only two human beings on the beach or in the water (as far as I can see in either direction).  And yet, once again, THEY are the most significant focus of my attention (as well as their own).

The wind chill, the rain, the force of the pounding waves … each of these completely insignificant to the girls — except for the fact that in this moment, these elements are providing a “memory” to be preserved for their whole lifetime. (Perhaps the cold water will preserve it even longer)

On another note, I find it both peculiar and significant that while these youth are being tossed about in the ocean’s waves, the gaggle of seagulls are standing perfectly still safely beyond the reach of the waves. As a matter of fact, these birds have been poised in this position for about 20 minutes.  Except for 2-3 who probably have “seagull A-D-D” this group has not moved a muscle. 

And I wonder to myself, “What are they standing around, waiting on?”

With so few humans on the beach, are they “taking a stand” to say, “Finally, some peace and quiet!”

Or is this some “fowl” version of “occupy the beach.”

The tide is slowly edging upon the shore … so perhaps this is their version of “Chicken” or “Red Rover” with the sea.

Just some silly birds though … often viewed as a nuisance by sunbathers and beach-combers.  In the BIG SCHEME … and pictured against the stunning sea … they are mostly insignificant.

But then again … twenty or thirty small birds standing perfectly still facing the raging ocean waves… that’s not INSIGNIFICANT to Their Creator!

Perhaps this is a TRUE EXAMPLE of how to “Be still and know the I AM God.” Psalm 46:10

Reverence at its finest!

From just about any vantage point the ocean is simply staggering.  The only place that any of us, (exemplified by the birds), can even “pretend” to have significance or equality with the sea is just at the water’s edge. But that is only an illusion for us. Some have learned to live in harmony with the deep, but we know our attempts to take control against such a powerful force are not only a daunting task but as futile as our own feeble attempts to take God’s Sovereignty from His Mighty Hands, and control our own lives.

Jeremiah 5:22  
Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.

Psalms 93:4 The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

Running to the water’s edge for clarity and perspective … in order to sort through what’s significant, I cannot dismiss the symbolism of God’s recurring message to me about relationship.

Relationships must have a foundation of trust and be fostered to endure through storms and experience the joy. (thinking of the grandfather and his grandson with the kite)

Relationships must be preserved with moments of pure enjoyment, laughter, love and commonality. (thinking of the BFFs frolicking in the ocean)

Relationships must appreciate boundaries exemplified by respect, reverence and recognition of another’s individuality. (thinking of the birds)

“Relating” the ocean to life and relationships, we must be able to appreciate it for what it is and what it can provide:

  • A powerful force that truly cannot (and should not) be controlled.
  • A source of joy to be embraced and experienced
  • A place or provision for discernment and honest introspection
  • A foundation for life to grow and prosper when and where boundaries are appreciated.

By the way … the sun is significantly shining, the sky is a significant blue and alas, the clouds cannot conceal the Radiance … the Redemption … or the Relationship that God wants to share with those who will seek Him.

Psalm 107:29  
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.



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