It’s been wonderful. I’ve spent almost a week at the ocean and have been able to witness multiple sunrises. My soul has been refreshed and my heart renewed. It’s been such a joy to start the morning with God before my mind is cluttered with all the noise of the world. Before I’ve turned on the radio, the TV, or Spotify…before I’ve seen who has posted, tweeted, or instagrammed….before I’ve opened my mouth to say anything to anyone, I began my day with the Creator of the Universe. I sat quietly and watched with anticipation as the Master Artist would call up the sun from below the vanishing point; the breaking waves providing the soundtrack.
Some mornings He would decide to announce the day with a shout as the firey orb would break the horizon without a cloud in the sky to soften its arrival. The sun in all its red-orange radiance pushing over the edge of the world, ready to burst forth to proclaim to all creation that it was time to get up and jump into the day.
Other mornings I would notice a pinkish-yellow hue begin to spread a muted glow to the edge of the ocean. Resting behind pillow-soft clouds, the arms of the sun would turn peach-yellow and reach into the sky, gently stirring the world into awareness that a new day had dawned.
On some of my favorite mornings, the sunlight was completely blocked by a blanket of wooly-gray clouds. The sky began to lighten gradually, a pale gray in contrast to the gloomy clouds. I couldn’t actually see the sun but I sensed it was hidden just behind the dark barrier. Gradually a portion of the solid wall grudgingly transformed into a wispy veil and the sunlight would press forward through the mask to prove its presence. The somber clouds would then try to conceal the light once again and it became a playful game of back and forth; the dark clouds looming, the lacey puffs floating and the cheerful sun peeking out. The sun was persistent and claimed victory, finally announcing to the sleepy world that it was indeed the sunrise, opening another day.
Each morning the sky was a pristine canvas, waiting in expectation for the Artist to paint the sunrise. With an endless supply of nature’s color as His pallet, He daubed textures and brush strokes as all of Creation obeyed His voice. He adorned the expanse with breath-taking beauty, faithfully recreating the very First Day. I was overwhelmed with the authority and power of His creativity and would respond with all of creation in worship, right there on the beach. I would humbly ask if I could be a part of His design for that day and would quietly wait for His instructions. He was so faithful to speak and I was actually listening, knowing that He was guiding my days to have a balance of rest and productivity.
Because I was looking at multiple days stretching out before me in this blissful serenity, I was able to leave the frantic future in the future along with my lengthy “To Do List” …until the last morning.
On that particular morning as I was sitting on the beach witnessing the formation of His beautiful masterpiece, I asked Him. I knew with a painful awareness that I was about to transition back to real life and inquired, “What do you want me to take away from this place?” I heard the words, “Dial it back.” I thought what in the world does that mean? So I sat silently and observed, confident that God would show me. He directed my gaze at the crashing waves battering the shore, powerful and forceful; knocking down things in their way and stirring up sand from the ocean floor. I heard Him speak to my heart. “Don’t be like the waves when you leave here.” And I knew exactly what He meant. I was going back to a very busy schedule, with a lot to accomplish in a fairly short window of time. When under pressure to get things done, I have been known switch gears to what my family not so fondly refers to as, “production” mode. I get revved up: my tone of voice changes, I become extremely focused and I go into hyper-drive. Basically, I begin barking orders like the captain of a speed boat and throw people overboard if they don’t move fast enough… I knew precisely what God meant. “Okay, I got it,” I thought. I was humbled and vowed not to be a crashing wave.
I looked back out at the sunrise and God painted another picture for me to contemplate, even more penetrating than the first. He focused my view on the smooth glassy parts of the ocean that purely reflected the sun. It was dazzling and breathtakingly beautiful; a mirror image of the sun itself. The sun shining on the pounding waves was the polar opposite. The white caps were churning in the ocean and crashing against the shore, moving in such a frenzy of activity that the sun’s reflection was impossible to see. The image was distorted, misshapen and unable to reflect the true image of the sun at all. I heard God say, “I want you to be a reflection of Me.” Ouch!
When I get into “production” mode I am rarely a reflection of the Son. I may be productive and get the job done but I have crashed over people and left destruction in my wake. I am not reflecting anything except my own agenda. When I “dial it back” I am like the smooth, glassy sea, able to mirror the character and calmness and light of the Son.
As I left that beach paradise my heart was full and I had a renewed resolve to be like the smooth glassy sea, a pure reflection of the Son. An hour or so later as we were driving home, my resolve nearly capsized as we encountered a detour and vacationing motorists who acted like they had all the time in the world! Didn’t they know I had someone coming over to my house for a time of prayer that very morning and if they didn’t hurry up and at least go the speed limit, I was going to be late!!! For goodness sake, I was going to be praying!!! The roads become perilous waters to navigate in the pursuit of godliness.
Somehow the irony of the moment was lost on me and I felt justified in my impatience. It was probably a good thing that my husband was driving the car instead of me since I can become a bit “instructional” with the horn if I feel that other drivers on the road would benefit from my tutelage. I texted my friend and alerted her of our delay and finally zoomed into the driveway with only minutes to spare. I walked into the house and immediately detected an unpleasant odor! My resolve ran aground and I was shipwrecked.
I had asked my daughter who was home for the summer, to make sure she cleaned things up because of my “Prayer Appointment” that morning. My dear daughter, Emily had made the house spotless but there was a distinct “not spotless” odor hovering in the air. Without stopping to greet my daughter or thank her for cleaning up the house while I was lounging on the beach hearing from God, I grabbed the Bic lighter and began frantically lighting candles. As I hurriedly called out my thanks for cleaning up the house I tagged on the thoughtful question, “…but what is that smell??” I searched desperately for the Bath and Body Works Cinnamon Room Spray and immediately took the matter in hand. My daughter emerged from her room coughing and choked out, “Mom, what are you doing? You’re only supposed to use one spurt of that stuff! It’s too strong!” Well, I thought if one spurt was good, five must be great, and I continued my purification process. It was certainly the covering of God’s grace that kept our house from exploding as I sprayed that aerosol room freshener into a room full of lit candles. My daughter just shook her head and went back into her room. Suddenly, at that very moment, I knew I had been a crashing wave and had just knocked my daughter down into the sand. This would require an apology and hopefully she would see the humor and the irony as I shared what God had just revealed to me at the beach.
As I wandered through the cinnamon haze to the laundry room, I saw the culprit. There, perched against the door was a bag of trash, waiting to be taken out to the garbage bin in the garage. I grimaced as I lifted the offending bag and carried it out to be disposed of properly. It all made sense to me now. My daughter, who was home alone that evening before, had cleaned up the house and had remembered to empty the garbage. Taking the garbage out into the garage at night normally wouldn’t have posed a problem except that particular night was the Eve of the 4th of July. When we had spoken on the phone that evening my daughter declared that she felt like she was in a war zone. Our very patriotic neighborhood was filled with “celebrations” that repeatedly shook the house. Because there were multiple celebrants, setting off a variety of fireworks, the explosions were erratic and unpredictable. Knowing that she was alone in the house and feeling a bit on edge, she decided not to go out into our creepy garage; the trash bag could sit in the laundry room overnight. I laughed to myself and by the time my friend rang the doorbell, I was short of breath, but I put on a smile and answered the door.
I’m grateful for a forgiving daughter with a sense of humor. I am so very thankful for a God with those same qualities in lavish measure. He knows that the desire of my heart is to be a smooth glassy sea that reflects the beauty of the sun. He also knows me so perfectly that it comes as no surprise to Him when I become a crashing wave instead, even mere hours after I pledge to be a mirror image of His Son. I can humbly go to Him, ask Him to brush off the irritating sand of my failures and wash me clean in His sea of forgiveness. Each sunrise is a new promise of grace and power to become a reflection of His Son.
“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT)
Are you a crashing wave or a peaceful reflection of the Son?