Last week, I was blessed to spend time with the Atlantic Ocean. My sister and I traveled to the Outer Banks in North Carolina to take in some history, beauty, and of course—the beach.
Like so many people, we grew up swimming in the summertime. My grandparents lived five minutes away, and almost every summer day we swam in their backyard pool. Grandpa built it himself, and Grandma diligently kept it going, checking the pH levels and emptying filters of soggy leaves and dead bugs.
Since I learned to swim in a pool, I approach natural bodies of water with some wariness. I like to watch what other people are doing first. In the Outer Banks, a teenage girl had the same idea. She was wearing a fashionable and flimsy-looking bikini, and while my get-up was slightly more robust, we both stood on the beach, weighing our options. But while we considered, the ocean kept coming. Our feet sunk at awkward angles in the wet sand while the waves continuously pummeled the shore. And then a vigorous wave crashed—tumbling the girl right into the water. As I moved to help her up, she mumbled, “That’s it. I’m done.”
I didn’t feel like swimming with the jellyfish myself, so I watched those who looked like they were having fun. Not surprisingly, they were kids. The babies toddled on the beach, delighted at every crash and foam. The older kids ventured further out, their backs turned to the sea. Their approach struck me as the most reasonable: There’s no need to fight the waves. Don’t even bother anticipating them. But when they come—ride every single one.
I don’t know about you, but for me it hasn’t been a year of tranquil pool water. It’s been a year of crashing waves. And sometimes I’ve landed on my bum, overwhelmed by forces bigger than I am. But in moments of clarity—and learning—I know that God wants me to stop fighting the inevitable. I sense God’s invitation to turn my back on controlling, anticipating, and tensing against change, and instead, to do the logical thing. To just ride the wave. Who knows? It might even be fun.
We easily forget something true about the ocean, as well as the ocean of Love in which we swim:
that every wave eventually returns to shore.