Most of us tend to have that certain special place we can run to where we can escape or just decompress. For some it may be a cabin deep in the woods surrounded by nature. For others it might be a hike up to Emerald Lake in CO. For me, it’s easy and has always been the same since I was just a young boy. I Love the Beach! I go every year to my favorite beach on the Pacific Coast and in fact was there just last week. For me there is nothing more relaxing than playing in the waves during the day or more breath taking as the sunset at night, as I attempted to capture in the image attached to this post. It is my safe place.
While I enjoy corporate worship and my private alone time, I am never more close to God than when I am on the beach. I am in awe of the power of His creation. When I try to comprehend how the powerful surge of the ocean waves become humbled and silenced by the tiny grains of sand that make up the beach, I short circuit. I am reminded of God’s response to Job in the same book when He asks “…who commands the waves you can come this far and no further…”. When I sit and witness that natural phenomenon I am left speechless. I feel very tiny and insignificant in comparison, but here, it’s ok. This is my place and I don’t have be concerned with my worth or my worthiness. Here I am not this party or that party, red or blue, upper, lower or middle. Here there are no labels, no hatred or biases, no trending social issues or systematic barriers. Here there is a sense of a much higher power who values us even more than the creation that we marvel at. My safe place.
But when I’m on the beach there is more going on than simply the awesome display of a creative God. I can find a sense of restoration or readjustment here. I am a man of many mistakes, many failures, many bad decisions. I am imperfect by definition and in daily need of reconciliation. Truth be known I should be on the beach every week and not just once annually, just for this reason alone. For me the waves and the ocean have a very significant and symbolic effect on my imperfections. There is a peaceful calm that occurs with watching the tides. It’s almost as if each wave that comes to shore removes a bit of my imperfection and takes it back out to sea, far away from me. Indiscretions, out to sea; bad choices, out to sea; feelings of failure, out to sea. The healing can’t be described or fully understood. Yet again, however, I am reminded of scripture that deals with this very notion of sin and sea. In Micah 7:19, the Prophet says “He will turn again and have compassion on us; He will subdue our iniquities and will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”.
As I usually do I waded in the shallow water looking for any cool sea shells I could retrieve for my grandkids. The water would only be clear for a few seconds to reveal what was lying on the sandy bottom. And then a wave would come to shore and wash everything back out to sea-where there were many shells just a few seconds ago was now a cleared sandy floor. I get it. Just like that everything was washed out to sea. To think that our sins are likewise cast into the deepest parts of the sea where man can’t even reach is comforting and healing. But to actually see it displayed like shells that were so plentiful just a few seconds ago and are now completely removed really drives home with power and magnitude the incredible lesson of forgiveness and redemption. What a refreshing contrast in reading about the sea’s role in the removal and disappearance of our imperfections and in seeing played out in nature. If only all Biblical lessons were as easily revealed.
My safe place doesn’t magically make everything and every issue go away. I still have to deal with me when I leave, and I am my biggest challenge. But just the few days alone in my place does more good than the best counselor or psychiatrist money could buy. I wasn’t born on the beach but I’m convinced I was born to spend time there. It is the only place where I feel somewhat whole and at peace. My Heaven, the Throne of Grace, surrounded by the soft whispers of worship of calm waves washing up on the sandy beach, set against an eternal California sunset. My never ending safe place.