March 12, 2012

Isles and Inlets

Apparently the tide came in like crazy yesterday.  I have to admit, I was not excited about what I saw as I got out of my truck at the beach to survey my running terrain.  The saltwater had worked greedy fingers through every level part of the wide shore, leaving confused water trails very far from the wind blown, raging ocean with no promise of return.  The pools of water marooned on the mushy sand as far back as the dunes meant running on the beach was going to feel like running through a world made of porridge.

While I tried to find a shred of willingness within me to run on such slumpy footing, my mind wandered to God's history with the world and floods.  How He promised to never destroy the earth by deluge ever again.  How He promises us He's got the ocean handled and we don't have to worry about it overflowing onto the whole oxygen breathing world's living space.   What once overtook, is now bound in and reigned by His decree and this fact is very comforting.  If anyone asked us, we would say that we truly believe the promise, that the water will not go past His decree.  And for most of the year that decree is nicely placed in a predictable part of beach with no sign of changing.  But when the water comes where we didn't expect it and wretchedly alters the path we walk, did it disobey or did He decree it?

Has God lied about setting bounds for the ocean and screwed up my workout and  made me waste a bunch of time and gas?  I'm terribly willing to take this personal, God, I hope you know that.

O, how emotional and incriminating we are towards our caring God.

We have two options as Christ-followers and we must decide, trial by trial, which one we believe.  Either God decreed this inconvenient and seemingly random change in the landscape, or the elements of the world are more powerful than Him and were able burst His established boundary.  If the sea was able to break His bounds, then He really isn't in control and thus really isn't God like He says He is, and we might as well throw in the faith-towel now because He lied about the whole thing.

But if God did decree this temporary touch of water to land (I'm gonna go with this option), then the question becomes one of motive:  Is He is out to get us with this newfound struggle that feels so out of control, or out to prove us?  Is He out to take us down or to strengthen our resolve?

Judging from a million verses in the Bible, I have to assume that He is out to better us and our faith.  All us Christians nod our head and mentally assent that God always "works all things out for good."  That is, until we forget that fact in the throes of any type of pain and confusion and start thinking in our deep souls that God is up to no good with us.  We habitually and zealously resist struggle of any kind and heartily fear it, mostly because it's scary and we don't truly see the same value in it that God does.  "There must be a different option than the cross offered to us," we imploringly chant in haunted tone, while the truth that we know and fear and say we believe meets our escapist call in a strong and rhythmic response.  "Faith cannot grow except for faith strengthening challenges," it sings back to us.  "How does a muscle increase without being torn and taxed?"

This concept of living perpetually in God given learning experiences can still be wonderfully depressing and comfortless because we're still standing at the beach with our running clothes on and a sinking feeling in out stomach.  We're still focused on how awful it will feel to travel the road ahead and without setting foot on it, we've already decided we don't like it.

"But I drove all the way out here and wasted all this expensive gas and I made a mistake in coming here, I'm sure of it," I whine.  Because it won't be easy I am now free to automatically assume that a mistake somewhere along the line has occurred.  But I know what He would say if I turned my offended, childish complaint to Him.   How neither one of us, the beach and I, have made mistakes by coming here: both have come by loving decree.  And how a difficult life or path does not equal an unloved-by-God life or path.

LOVE!  That's what I've forgotten about.  Love that lasts past my temper tantrums and disbelief.  Love that has vowed to do what is best in and all around us, no matter what it feels like in the daily minutiae. This is the crux of all struggle because not only has God  promised to keep the ocean at a distance from us, He's also passionately promised that someday, in the end, we will be finished and refined.  We will become different than we are now, down to the very fiber of our blood bought souls.

This body of water that's supposed to be so "Pacific" has managed to refashioned it's environs into a completely different world.  But that doesn't change the fact that God has got the ocean handled. The world has not gone down in another flood.  I'm still standing on dry land breathing oxygen.  God has still done what He promised.

The ocean has been led a little higher towards us today, that's all.  And I, so that I can become stronger, have been brought to it's shore.  We have more in common than I thought, the ocean and I.  We are at the mercy of a sublimely wise and loving will.

When our nicely memorized, carefully coddled world feels more water and more wave than we prefer.  We hate it that we have to pick our way through a landscape made more difficult to traverse by what seems like a sudden mistake on the topography.  Why is this water here?  It's never been here except for today when I decided to drive a half hour to take a run on this beach!  Why is this struggle here?  I thought things would be one way and they are another.   

1 comment:

Erika Marie said...

im so happy you're my friend. <3