On a recent trip to Florida, I was reminded of how much I love the beach. My favorite thing to do on any beach is just to stand where the waves are washing on the shore. I love watching the water tumble over my feet while rushing to the beach, and then watching the sand, rocks, and shells tumble back as I sink into the sand. You also get the best view of the sand and the water from there.
The amazing thing about the beach is how it resets itself every day or so. You can run all over the place, write all over it, dig big holes in it, or pile up huge sand castles and it is all reset the way nature wants it the next day. There might still be a dip from that huge hole or a mound of your castle left over, but give it another day and even those will be gone. The wind and the water will do exactly what nature had intended to do with that beach regardless of human intervention.
What some people don’t know is that those beaches are never permanent. They build up and whither away over the centuries by design. Sometimes even the whole barrier islands are just temporary – gone one decade and there the next.
Which is kind of scary when you think of all the buildings that we build on these islands. We try as the can to keep the beaches where they are by building walls and jetties. We try to keep buildings there by using beams and stilts. If a storm washes away the beach, someone will haul in tons of sand to “rebuild” it. But eventually, nature has its way. The way God intended it. We can set ourselves up for disaster by building where buildings were never meant to be, or go build on the more permanent rocks away from danger. But the beach will be the beach regardless.
I think of a life of faith in God as a beach. God will go where God will go. He does some things for a short while, and other things for a long time. Some people find one particular strain of faith and they try to tie it down. They build big buildings, stick huge metal rods in the ground, and raise up a series of jetties to keep their piece of the beach in place… just the way they like it.
Of course, we have all seen what happens to houses built on sand. We see them on the news, slowly falling apart as the ground beneath them, even the entire island, disappears. And when the house falls in the ocean, what do they do? They fly in a ton of sand and rebuild in the same spot.
Because their spot, their ground is what is more important to them. Not the wonder of what nature is doing through that spot.
So many churches operate this way – trying to make a stand against the winds and waves of change that have been ordained by God.
There are others that just love to stand in the sand and be amazed at the changes that are happening around them, only building huts or other temporary structures that can be moved and updated to the changing conditions around them. Eventually, the wind and the waves will expose rock… and rock is where we need to build. But we need to wait for the process to expose that rock.
Those that built on the sand? They were the ones that didn’t have the patience to wait, learn, and study the ways that the Spirit is moving.
Slavery was never ordained in the Bible. But nothing in the Bible tells us to end slavery, either. Yet the winds of change in this world have always been moving us away from slavery… even in cultures where there is no Bible. The world is moving away from slavery even without a direct spiritual command to do so in many cases. Who else could be in charge of this move but God?
But don’t think for a second that this change is just contained to slavery. The bigger movement that is happening in this world is equality for all. Governments moving from dictatorships to democracy. People leaving behind racism and prejudice. Arbitrary gender roles and limitations being left behind. Religious minorities no longer imposing their beliefs on the majority.
Of course, a few churches and other groups will continue to fight against this. Some day they will wake up and find that the entire island they had their “spot” on has been washed away.
Hopefully they can use their neon coffee shop signs as searchlights to see where the island has moved to.
But me? You can find me where you have always found me. Standing on the beach, letting my feet sink in as I watch where the wind and the waves are taking us on this wild ride we call faith.