Life can seem benevolent. Dozing on my back in the sun-warmed sea, water lapping, my cares are as far removed as the beach I paddled out from. Reality succumbs to the rhythmic movement of little waves as I close my eyes and drift. But when I open them again the horizon’s changed. The familiar shoreline where my home stands isn’t the same. I’m turned on my head for a minute until I find my bearings and realize that the water transported me somewhere I didn’t expect to go, almost imperceptibly.
As we untether from the ordinary in these disconcerting times I’ve become aware that I’m drifting dangerously far from shore. Things aren’t as they should be. But it’s not the pandemic that’s distanced me, it’s the before, the ease I’ve become accustomed to.
I imagine my embellishments stripped away and find myself wanting. I come to a concerning conclusion that my comfort has become too comfortable. My security in these four walls and all the life inside is playing a role that it shouldn’t be.
Perspective is lost. I’ve built my secure castle on sand, run to the water and paddled out to play, assuming everything is stable. But the storm rolls in. Plagues threaten. Economies crumble. Life quakes and the Lord shouts in a whisper “Who do you trust? You have gone astray. Return to Me and I will restore you.”
I paddle frantically with my hands in the tumultuous water, trying to get back to my self-designed safety. The tide has changed and suddenly the waves are a steep, rolling force, continually crashing down on me, not the gentle ebb and flow I’d relied on earlier. Now no matter how hard I swim the undertow sucks me back. I’m out of my depth.
“Help!” I thrash my hands in the air. Panic surges, draining me of strength.
“Grab my hand!” It’s a male voice. And he’s standing … on the waves.
I must be delirious. I reach for him and he hauls me up, on top of the pitching water keeping my hand in his. Wind tears at us as he grins and leads me across the flailing sea to shore. I sway on the desolate beach, heart thrumming, assaulted by the scene in front of me.
Walls, shelves of broken things, smashed furniture and clothes are strewn everywhere. The construction of my life, all that I’ve trusted in, is fallen. Detritus mixes into the grains of eternity. He lets go of my hand and removes His outer garment, wrapping it ’round me, smiling into me. I feel it, a fire from His eyes sparking a lamp in me that had grown dim.
“Sit with me?” We walk to a small blaze burning on the beach where He crouches, then turns, plate in hand and offers it to me.
“Yes please.” I receive His offering. Again.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:7-10 NKJV Holy Bible