Life on the beach



It seems like such an odd place to make a home, yet there they are... thousands of blow holes in the rutted sand where the crabs make their homes deep.  The tides come in and go out, and leave patterns on the sand, yet the crabs hold on tight in the hole they've dug, eat what comes to them, and are perfectly suited to an environment of muck that would detest your average world citizen.


We walked a mile or so of the beach without the children one afternoon, hand in hand.  The difficulties of the week and the friction from separation washed away slowly as the waves lapped at our feet and we padded along on the granite-hard sand, packed by wave after wave.  Kind of like trials.  Those waves reduce the sand to it's minimum volume.  Wash away the dross of whatever sand refuses to be packed down.  Slowly erode the flatness of the beach with the tenacity and repetition only an ocean can boast.  We've been beaten down like that, Aaron and I.  Reduced to our minimum volume, the parts that refuse to submit slowly washed away, the weak parts eroded.  The sand of this beach used to be soft, may be soft again, I suppose...a playground for beach volleyball enthusiasts looking for a soft landing and some recreation.  But at the moment it's a hard packed road where no tracks are left behind.  It's a harsh strand of land.  Not a recreational destination.


Even on the hard-pack, He leaves little notes of beauty.  The funny curly lines between the crab's blow holes, a hash pattern of almost feminine beauty.  The straight marks in criss-crossed pattern where shells have rolled along the packed sand, leaving white trails where their sharp edges dug in as they were pulled back out to sea.  Iridescent bubbles floating along the remnants of surf in the tidal pools.  It isn't a desolate beach.  It isn't even uninteresting. 


Birds circle the beach, searching for prey.  Crabs and snails stranded, a fish if they get lucky.  From the air, their harsh calls criticize.  We've heard the birds circling our beach, the beach of marriage and love and life that has been packed hard by the relentless trials.  All kinds of harsh bird calls come our way, asking why we don't pick up and move, change something, get away from the waves.  Sometimes they even pluck things that we call treasures off our beach, carry them away, gobble them up.  Some question why the waves are so relentless here, why they come at all.  Isn't there something we can do?  If we were really devout Christians, wouldn't we be planted in a safe harbor somewhere?  As we are beat and washed and watch our treasures carried away by the waves, there is a sense of smallness, even sometimes hopelessness.  Yet there is rest, in the beat and retreat of each wave, when you truly feel the mighty hand of God.  His rest is not always peace, happiness, quietness, or assurance.  I found it, a grain of sand on an endless beach of human suffering, in finally learning who I am.  Redeemed, yes...by Him. Saved, yes...by His power.  Assured, yes...but only of heaven.  Prosperous, yes...if only in the jewels of my crown, never to be seen until that great day when we are brought home forever to heaven, where waves will never again drag away the dross, when the process  of reducing my self to minimum volume is complete.  Who am I to shake my fist at a Creator who planted me on an unprotected shore where the waves never stop coming?  Who are we, as Christian community, to say that the only logical home for Christians is in a harbor somewhere?


I rest beneath the waves.  I let go of my tight fists and let Satan pull away those parts of self and mind and body that will not submit to the forces condensing me.  Somewhere above, beyond the crash of the never-ending surf and the cackle of the birds, I hear the deep bass of a rotor beat.  The God of the universe is on patrol. While I lie beneath the waves, I may be bruised, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.  But He will never let me be crushed, abandoned, destroyed or in despair.  (II Corinthians 4)