This past week, I was able to spend some time with my husband and reconnect with a couple of close friends in Florida. It seems I always learn a lot when I’m away from home, and I’m thankful that God is patient and loves me enough to allow me to experience things that teach me and remind me of His Word.
For a few days, I got to sit and relax on the beach, letting the hot sun warm my skin–er, sunburn me. (Is it supposed to be 94 in Florida in November? And aren’t umbrellas supposed to keep you from getting burned?) I listened to the soothing sound of waves rolling along the shore, and I even played in the warm, salty ocean.
Ahem. So, playing in the ocean? Yeah, that was interesting. I brought along a “noodle” to keep me afloat in the ocean, and since I’m not the best swimmer, I thought that would help me enjoy my experience even more. The beach in the area where we stayed was sloped; not gently, either. I noticed that even when I walked right along the water’s edge, my feet were sucked into the sand rather quickly. This was a little unnerving, but there were a fair number of people out among the waves who looked like they were having a great time. The waves were much bigger than I had experienced before. “Before” was probably 30 years ago. Still, it looked like so much fun. Well. The sloping, quicksand-like sand that sucked my feet down only worsened after wading in just a few feet.
Undeterred, or pig-headed, I forged ahead. “After all,” I reasoned, “the water isn’t even up to my knees.” I plodded out a few more yards, where there was another 8-to-12 inch drop-off of sinking sand. Here’s where those waves really became “fun-looking.” The folks out here were enjoying the action so much, bobbing up and down. I wanted to do that. Attempting to “swim” with my noodle-thing, I sank down into the water and immediately got hit by a wave. I found it almost impossible to get up, even though the water was just up to my knees. And the waves kept coming (because that’s what they do).
I thought it might be better to turn my back as the waves hit; maybe I could remain upright instead of falling. I did that. I didn’t work. At this point, the waves were way over my head. “This should not be a problem,” I thought, “because I really am just up to my knees in water.” I tried to relax and enjoy the waves, as everyone else did. That’s when the big wave hit. It sucked me right under the water–hat and all. Totally not expecting that! I got up sputtering, having gotten a pretty good mouthful of that warm, salty ocean. I was done. I grabbed my floating hat, and with all I had left, I waded toward the shore. At this point, I was still not in the “all clear,” due to the sinking sand beneath my feet. I remember falling to my knees in about a foot of water, and having a really difficult time getting up. (Please do not try to picture this in your mind. Please.)
So, what did God try to show me through this experience? The first lesson I learned was pretty clear. Keep your eyes not on the big waves, but on the shore. I was less apt to become disoriented in the water when I did that. But, God, the WAVES ARE SO BIG! CRASHING! OVERWHELMING! God says, “I know. Keep your eyes on Me, remember?” I thought of Peter, who, when he took his eyes off of Jesus and saw the wind, began to sink. (Matthew 14:22-23) How often do I sink over the course of a week?
Another lesson was mentioned by a friend…even though things might look fun and appealing, they may not be what they appear. In other words, don’t always join the crowd around you that seems to be having fun. You may just get sucked into something very hurtful, (think big waves) and not be able to make your way out. In my situation, the waves, which looked like fun at first, became very destructive for me. It’s a good thing I got out when I did, when I still was able to make my way to shore.
The good news here comes from 1st Corinthians 10, verse 13: But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it. (TLB) I texted with my daughter after my experience, and she said, “Mom, you have to realize the power that the ocean contains.” Uh, yeah! How could I forget that? I was able to see–and experience–that power up front and personal, and I discovered that being in the waves of the ocean was not a good place–a safe place–for me to be. How often do I get sucked into a place where I shouldn’t be over the course of a week?
I’m back home again, missing the sun, the sound, the sand, and the beauty of the water. But not being in the waves; I don’t miss that. Except, that is, for the lessons I’ve been reminded of. Thanks be to God for His victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. To Him be all glory forever and ever. Amen.
God bless you!