Florida has a lot of fun (theme parks!) and crazy (sinkholes!) things, but my favorites are 2 D’s: Disney and Destin. I have spent a lot of time at Disney, and prior to a recent stellar vacation, very little time in Destin. But after almost a week there, I fell in love and can’t wait to go back.
If we are being real, I love the ocean, period. Hawaii, South Carolina, Manhattan Beach, the Pacific Northwest, wherever there is an ocean, I am happy. There is something I can’t describe but it seems to fit whatever mood I am in: if I am stressed, it is relaxing. If I am tired, it is rejuvenating. If I am feeling small, the huge ocean reminds me of God’s majesty.
There’s this worship song- you may have heard it, like, once ever – about the ocean. It is one of my favorites for so much more than just a beautiful melody and powerful lyrics. It conjures up images of the sea, my happy place. One thing that I think makes the ocean so captivating is the uncertainty mixed in with beauty. Even nowadays in the age of iPhones and government surveillance, there is so much unknown about the ocean. They are discovering new species every day and they say most of the ocean is still undiscovered (I am holding out for mermaids). This is actually kind of terrifying depending on how you look at it. But it’s crazy cool, too – you realize that when you are on a boat, you have NO idea what is underneath you? Maybe dolphins will jump up any second? Maybe there is a shark swimming nearby? As cool/scary as whatever your imagination conjures up, you know that you are safe on the boat. Barring a rare emergency, you will be safe from whatever happens underneath you.
Life is like this. Faith is like this. None of us know what will happen. There will be times of wonder and happiness; there will be times we are scared and anxious. But God is our boat; He is our “refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) And NO malfunction, emergency, storm or catastrophe will keep us from that refuge. It absolutely does not mean that we will live a worry-free or constantly happy life, but it does mean we will not drown. We will not ever be castaways or left alone.
The second verse of the song – if you didn’t know it is “Oceans” by Hillsong United – is something that constantly resonates with me, whether I am singing it or not:: “Your grace abounds in deepest waters; your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, you’ve never failed and you won’t start now.” This is our faith in a nutshell. It talks about God’s grace, guidance and eternal presence in our life. Though this verse isn’t a particular scripture, look at some of the scripture that talks about the same things:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus…” 2 Timothy 2:1
“I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
“Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and the deeps.” Proverbs 16:4
“Neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor eight, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
I wish I could take you all to the beach and talk about this with you as we stare at the ocean. I wish I could share with you examples of times I thought I was going to drown but never did. Faith is easy to talk about when times are good, but you don’t really know the status of your faith until times get hard. It is so easy for me to give you advice, or for you to give it to a friend, but when you’re the one living it? That’s a different story. You must believe that God will take care of you through the good times and the bad. When you feel the most alone, you have to choose to trust God. You have to choose to get the depressing thoughts out of your head and pick up your Bible. You have to get out of your own head and focus on coming to Him with your prayers. Your relationship with God, like any relationship, is a two way street: you need to put time into it to make it stronger and not just when times are bad. You have to “keep your eyes above the waves” even when your “feet may fail.” Do what you can EVERYDAY to convince yourself of the truth – that God has you in His arms and will carry you across any sea.
#JournalJourney: First off, if you do not have “Oceans” in your music library, get it- Hillsong United has the original, even I have a version of it. Listen to the song with a specific obstacle in mind. Go through the song in as much or as little detail as you want, as you relate each section to whatever it is you’re facing. Take some time to pray about all of this specifically and write about how piece by piece, your prayers are answered. Most of the time, we don’t have everything answered immediately, nor in the ways we want, but it WILL give you encouragement to see God is listening to specific problems in your life and this closeness will help you realize the refuge He is for you!
Further Scripture: Hebrews 4:16, 1 Chronicles 29:11-12