We had an incredible week at the beach! Two whole weeks in the keys! It was gloriously uneventful. And Internet access was mind numbingly slow…an unplanned, complete unplug. We walked across the street to the beach every day. My sister and I chit-chatted to the sound of the susurrus as the children played in the ocean, ventured into the ocean ourselves a few times, went back to the house for dinner, and returned to the beach in time to watch the sunset…everyday for two weeks. Ahhh.
For the first week and a half, the waves were very small: perfect since half of the kiddos are under the age of 10. And the shallows go on for days at the beach we were at. I have never been to a beach where kids looked dangerously far out and could still touch. On more than one occasion, one of us would jump up in a panic hollering to a little to come in closer as we waved them in with large, dramatic arm motions. They would give us a puzzled look, stand up, and begin walking in. The water was only at their knees. Sheepishly, we holler, “You’re fine!” and wave with our arms for them to go back out. Poor kids. Lucky for us the beach was only sparsely occupied.
A week and a half in, we begin our daily routine. We grab our gear, load children up with their gear, and begin our lazy stroll across the street to the beach. The kids aren’t running anymore, there is no skipping or elated shouting about beach plans volleying from one to the other. They look for lizards as we walked along silently and slowly. Relaxation and a healthy boredom has set in.
As we approached the dunes, I notice\ a difference. There is a dim, rolling roar. The sky is bright…not thunder. I pick up my pace…sounds like the waves are up…ugh, the kids probably won’t enjoy this…keep walking. None of them have noticed anything yet. As I crest the rocks lining the dunes, I see the swells. My eldest son had gone out with my sister. When my eyes find him, he is standing, looking right at a wave quickly approaching him.
“That wave is a good two and a half feet taller than him.” my husband says as the wave absorbs my son into itself, continues its course, crashes into a small mountain chain of foam, and spits him out rolling and laughing.
I prepare myself for a short stay. There is no way the littles are going to like this.
My ten-year-old son runs out to join his brother. The others line up watching. BrookelynClaire runs to join her twin…never wanting to be left out. The seven year old quickly joins them with giggles, the five year old with a tiny body joins, and finally, though hesitantly, the six year old wades in.
With eyes sharp as hawks we watch them, counting every time they go under (boys do not appreciate a mom that dons her Wonder Woman cape too soon), and we watch their expressions.
It is rough. They are tossed like rag dolls. They ride boogie boards high atop cresting waves. When trying to walk they are knocked down over and over. But all I see are giggles and beaming faces…
The waves are rough, but the joy is high…
a picture of what my life in Christ should be…I am sure of it.
Sometimes tough seasons last longer than I feel they should. At times I have mounted a boogie board and made the best of the ride…on top of the wave. At other times I’ve resembled a rag doll tossed from one spot to the next just holding my breath for survival.
I watch my eldest son, as he tries to make his way across the ocean to the others, he does not fight the wave. When he sees the waves that loom high above his head approaching, he stands. Not run. Not swim. Not jump. Just stands and gives himself to the wave. It would absorb his body and he would disappear in a wall of green, (it gives me a strange feeling to watch) but when he comes up, he is further along in the direction he was heading.
I don’t know if he swam inside that wave or just let it take him, but he saved so much energy.
How many times does God allow tough things to come my way with the intention of it moving me further along? How many times does He offer joy in the tough seasons? Joy that can only be found in Him when the waves are high. And how often do I miss the joy fighting the wave? Fighting for my plan or what I think is right.
We stayed out much longer than I anticipated that day. They laughed hard that day. The lazy saunter to the beach turned into running and skipping and rolling in the waves. And as I watched them I wondered, on the way back to the house I wondered, and sitting here in my office I still wonder…
Might our greatest moments of joy be found when the waves are high? Might some of life’s greatest obstacles be meant to move us along if we will only give ourselves to them? There is a time to fight…might there also be a time to trust that this too is for my good, because He is good…and in trusting Him surrender the fight and rest in Him in the wave.
And I am certain that we can only laugh when we know that He too is watching. He is counting. He will never let a wave destroy us; but remake us and move us further along.
And so today I resolve…that when the waves are rough, because of Him, my joy will be high.