Last week, I had opportunity to sit in the warm waves of the
As I sat in the water, holding little
That’s when I began to understand the power of the undertow—the force that pulls the waves back out to sea thus acting in obedience to God’s command: “You may come this far, but no further.” Like the waves, the undertow moves in and out. When it moved in, the waves could crash into my back with seemingly unrestrained force—as if even in the shallow waters on the beach, all the power of the sea were moving in one direction. But when the tide changed, the deepest water—that nearest the ocean floor—began to revert, moving against the incoming wave with enough authority to suck the water back out to sea; the wave’s crashing power overcome.
Truly, life is not a beach. But perhaps life under the power and authority of God is not so different. The one who commands the waves will also orchestrate life. In the seemingly unpredictable tides of life, there remains an undertow of control, a force strong enough to not only tame the waves, but to design them. Life jerks us out of any attempt to control our own destiny. Life’s surges can offer mornings sitting in the surf with a child tucked protectively under one’s arm or thrilling moments when one might ride the waves, but they also produce hurricanes and tsunamis when the power of the sea seems to reign unrestrained and uncontrollable. How might we justify such a disparity?
Perhaps we miss the point. Left to human power and understanding, the waves and the sea are uncontrollable! But there is One whose authority dominates creation, One who imagined it all and formed it all. What if the only response is to rest there, in the power and authority of God, allowing the undertow of Will to reign? What if a connection to that safe place is the only answer?
Yes, the waves can be dangerous! But without the crashing waves, the beach would be only a scorching and unproductive dessert. Barry’s mom even noted the similarity as we neared the coast—the barren landscape stretching out before us with only little and low vegetation. The water, uncontrollable as it may be, calls us to the beach, cooling the coastal breezes and evaporating just above the horizon, blurring the definition between the water and sky, the earth and the heavens. And life is like that, too, a veritable smorgasbord of experience.
When I am near the beach, just the sound of the ocean, that audible struggle between the crashing waves and the authoritative undertow, possesses a power to still my last frayed nerve, to calm my spirit. Thus despite the heat I will open windows and doors, sit outside on patios and decks, walk along shore, or build sand castles all morning in the relentless sun to partake of its therapeutic offering. Like
And so it is with the Lord. Existing on the beach of life requires camping near the Maker. So I look for the moments when I might come to know Him better. Like a trip to the beach, not everything about arranging those moments seems enjoyable. There are any number of packages that must come along, be carried over the dunes of everyday life toward the water in order to enjoy the soothing ebb and flow of its tides. But I go, and when I don’t, I miss the unspoken instruction of the waves, God’s claim that only Authority will rule chaos.