“Oh afflicted one, storm tossed and not comforted; Behold, I will set your stones in antimony; And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11
Recently, my husband took us on a family vacation to the beach. For a entire week I sat on my patio overlooking the crystal blue water and white sand every morning as I drank my coffee and read my Bible. It was restful and the perfect setting for the Holy Spirit to speak as He painted an undeniable picture.
Because storms blow in so readily at the ocean, the beach is different every day. Not just the sky, but the actual landscape of the beach changes as the waves are pulled inward from the tides. With each crashing wave, the sand shifts. Some days you step in the water to find that the ocean floor is covered with tiny bits of shells that are not easy on your bare feet. The next day, you may find that there is a sudden drop in the ocean floor that was not there the day before. Then, there is that one perfect beach day after the storm has passed.
The perfect beach day for us was not the most sunny day. We had plenty of those. The perfect beach day came after a huge thunderstorm the night before. The waves had been more violent that normal and had created a shelf in the sand which caused the water to move over the beach in a such a way that it made the surface of the sand smooth. The shells were gone; the drop had disappeared and you could run into the waves for quite a distance which created a playful environment for all.
As I sat and watched my children play in the waves that day, I saw something. I saw that without the storm, the shells would still be on the ocean floor which sliced more than a few toes a few days earlier and it made me think of the storms in our lives. Storms are inevitable as we walk this journey home. Sometimes we see them coming on the horizon, but most often, they appear suddenly and take us by surprise. Sometimes, we can get deeply wounded in a storm, but I also know this…if we submit to God through it all, He can take the rough places in our lives and make them smooth. Not only does he buff and polish us through our trials if our hearts are pliable in His hands, He can renew our joy as we walk in the anticipation of what He has created in our lives as a result of the knowledge of His faithfulness through it all.
I saw something else as my husband and I sat on our patio eating lunch. A dark shadowy figure caught my attention in the water. I wasn’t the only one who saw it. People began to exit the water left and right as they became aware that something unusual was swimming down the coast line. From my vantage point, I could see seven or eight, large, dark aquatic animals. One looked as though it had a fin sticking out of the water. It was noon which is an unusual time of day to see large sea animals swimming so close to shore. So you can imagine what most people were thinking…SHARK!
You could see the fear on faces as they stood and watched the dark mass swim down the coast. From our patio thirteen floors up, however, we could see quickly that it wasn’t a group of sharks; it was dolphins having fun in the waves. As we watched the majority of people stand on the shore and watch, one lone young man on a float began to paddle with all his might against the waves to try to reach our new friends. About that time one of the dolphins leapt in the air and I couldn’t help but smile. I loved this man’s spirit as he attempted the impossible with bravado and maybe a little unrealistic enthusiasm. My husband and I laughed as we commented about the impossibility of what he was attempting, but deep down I cheered him on as he went after something that most of us are too afraid to attempt. In the midst of uncertainty, he was going after a moment of sheer joy.
The scripture constantly talks about our need to have ears that hear and eyes that see. Jesus would use not only words as He taught His disciples, but parables as He painted word pictures so that the people could gain insight. It was obvious to me that just as Jesus walked the shores of Galilee, the Holy Spirit was moving down the coast of Alabama. And deep in my spirit, I knew He was saying, “Are you ready to go after your joy? Can you walk with abandonment in those places that have not felt safe and secure? Are you ready to leave the storm behind and play in the new environment that it created? Don’t be afraid. Come dance in the waves.