I really don’t know much about rip tides. Except that when I was growing up we would visit my grandparents in Florida and there were usually warning flags keeping us on alert. All that meant at the time was that the ocean was off limits, which meant we had a lot of days in the pool in our floaties.
I keep wondering how and if and when we ever truly experience true restoration. Do we really ever fully? There’s this verse I love in Psalms (42:7) that says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” It seems scary in a way, and way bigger than myself. It makes me think of getting stuck in a rip current. As if, here we are, enjoying the comforts of a swim in the ocean, the feel of the water, the smell of the beach, the sounds of the waves. The ocean is a place of rest. What if my place of rest became a place of restoration? If I had it my way, as I often try to do, I would have started the restoration process surrounded by others, in a warm and inviting place, feeling accepted and loved. I probably would have called that restoration. There are restoring qualities in that. It is heavenly, after all, isn’t it? However, then we experience the rip tide. Not a real one, of course, although the beaches here can be wild…
Not too long ago I was driving to the store and had this crazy urge to keep driving. Keep driving, all the way to the beach. So, I did. I didn’t know why really. I ended up walking up on this intense beach scene, almost like a bad dream. It was disgusting actually. The beach was almost deserted, it was hot and smelled like death, it was muggy and there were flies everywhere. I took my shoes off to walk in the surf. Something was off though; the water was completely brown and dead horseshoe crabs were washing up on shore. I sat in the sand to find peace and see if I heard God’s voice. Nothing. I went here to hear God and to see beauty but it was all reeking of death. Then, the flies were all landing on my legs. I couldn’t stand it anymore. This place of peace had become an environment of overwhelming disgust. I rinsed my legs off in the water one last time and left the beach. What could God possibly want me to have gone there for? I couldn’t figure it out. I was alone, tired, and really bothered.
For weeks I’ve gone back to that scene in my mind. Maybe it means this or that, I will think.
I took the drive back to my house that day, along the marshland. As I glanced out my car window a very different scene was in view. The marsh grass was an electric shade of green as the huge blue-gray cloud hovering had bright rays of sunlight streaming down. It was making everything glow greens and blues. It was so gorgeous I almost swerved off the road in my pursuit of taking it all in. I couldn’t believe it. I went to the beach to find beauty and rest and here, in the marshes, where I couldn’t get to, where I wouldn’t expect it, was this stunner!
Why is my faith so small?
Some days I can’t get past myself to see straight. I want to steer my course and then I am baffled when it swerves in the wrong direction. Over and over again.
So, it seems that restoration can be a drive to the beach, or laughter surrounded by friends, but in faith, if you let him, he could sweep you away into even deeper waters. “All your waves and breakers have washed over me.” The thing about a rip tide is that it pulls you away. It is scary and wild and unpredictable. When you are caught in a rip current you cannot swim back to where you came from, you cannot go back there. You have to go with it, you have to let go and just swim in a new current. If you go back the way you came you will risk drowning. That’s how it is, isn’t it?
I still really don’t fully comprehend the beach scene, and it is really hard to trust a wild rip tide. I do know that God uses even those who have little faith. He calls them to great things. What if in the letting go, being brought to deeper waters, not able to go back to where we came from, we are held in this depth in safety and love. A new path is forged.
What if we let it all go and embraced the wildness of God? Breaking off the chains of our old selves and being made new.