Earlier in the morning the lakefront was calm and quiet. A couple of hours later the area was crowded with people, blankets, towels, coolers and the items needed for a day at the beach.
We set up our camp chairs on a grassy slope facing the water. Despite the fact I had a book with me, most of my time was spent people watching.
Laughter echoed in the air as children frolicked in the water. Several were on brightly coloured flotation devices. I watched siblings splash each other and parents introduce toddlers to the water.
A couple carried paddle boards down to the water. They climbed on, quickly found their balance, stood and paddled off. I watched their fluid strokes with admiration.
A little farther out a bright yellow kayak made its way close to the roped off beach area. On the other side of the rope a few speed boats towed water skiers.
The variety of activity was perfect for people watching.
A young boy, about three years old, ran back and forth on the pathway. A butterfly had captured his attention and he followed its flight. When it landed on a nearby patch of grass the boy slowly approached and leaned in for what I assumed was a closer look. I smiled at his curiosity and a moment later was shocked to see him stomp down and grind it into the ground. Not what I expected!
In a public setting, it is easy to watch people. On the lakefront I saw fun and laughter, some sweet loving moments and a few things I wish I hadn’t observed.
Most of us carry on with our lives unaware anyone is watching.
The fact is, I never know for sure if someone has witnessed my actions. I may be the object of someone else’s people watching. If so, what kind of impression am I leaving?
“On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” The words of this well-known praise song started going through my mind as we did our morning beach walk.
There was a good reason for this. Moments earlier, I’d been walking on firm sand. Then, my next step sunk deep into soft sand. I stumbled but didn’t fall.
Nothing about the appearance of the sand gave any indication it wasn’t as solid as where my previous step fell. I could not tell the difference between firm beneath my feet and sinking sand until it was too late. My runners and socks were now wet and uncomfortable.
This is a good picture of how easily I can step into undesirable situations in my life. I may think everything is under control and my steps are secure. The trouble is, looks can be deceiving, as I found out on my walk. Suddenly, the ground beneath my feet shifts and I find myself on sinking sand.
Sometimes my foot only slips a little. I recover quickly and carry on. I adjust to the less stable footing and soon it becomes normal for me.
This process is repeated until I stop one day and wonder how I got so far off track from where I’d begun.
Scripture tells us, “He lifted me from the miry clay and set my feet upon the solid rock.” The miry clay is where I tend to wind up when I rely on my own judgment and ignore the voice telling me this isn’t where I’m supposed to be. Still, I like to think I know what’s best for me. Past experience tells me that my judgment is not always accurate.
The solid rock I need to stand on is Jesus. He is the firm foundation I need. When I rely on him to guide me, he will direct my steps and keep me safe.
Our time in Mexico was coming to an end and this was one of our last beach walks. The wind at my back was refreshing. It also caused a problem I hadn’t anticipated as sand and shell fragments blew into my sandals from behind.
When this became uncomfortable I would stop, remove the sandal and shake out the offending debris. The frustration at being slowed down was tempered by the knowledge my foot wasn’t getting sore.
A piece of dry sea grass blew in and got trapped under my arch. This wasn’t as irritating as the sand or shells but I didn’t like the feeling of it flapping around. I started to lift my foot from the sandal bed and the grass blew right through and disappeared. There was no need to remove the footwear; I just had to get out of the way.
The life analogy struck me immediately. Sometimes troubles and inconveniences hit, slowing me down or making me uncomfortable. I often hold onto these longer than necessary, causing prolonged frustration and annoyance.
Other times, the problem was never supposed to be mine. I simply got in the way and didn’t allow it to pass by. Instead of moving aside to let it go, I trapped it and held on. This was not how it was supposed to be.
I remember a picture I once had on my fridge. One character said, “I’ve come to realize the only thing holding me back is me.” The other replied, “And a mighty fine job you’re doing of it.”
I don’t want to be the one holding me back from the life I desire. Maybe the next time trouble hits I will do something different and step out of the way to let it blow right on by.
The day couldn’t have been more lovely, the sun sparkling on the lake, the beach slowly filling with families. A little red-haired girl caught my attention. She stood still on the shore, her small head bent over something in her hand. She started forward, stopped and peered at her hand, took a few more steps and stopped again. As she approached, I could see a moth cupped in her palm. She tilted her hand each time it moved, stopped when it crawled dangerously close to the edge and moved slowly forward when it was secure. Eventually the little girl reached her parent, holding her hand out for her mother to admire the precious treasure.
My delight in watching that little girl deepened as I realized God had just given me a picture of Himself. His care for each one of us is no less complete than the careful protection she provided for that small moth. Isaiah 46:4(b) says “I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” God holds us in His hand and takes great care to keep us there. In John 17:12, as Jesus prays to His Father on our behalf, He says “I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost …”
Like that child who was so pleased with her treasure, Jesus delights in presenting us to His Father. In John 17, He asked his Father to protect us, to set us apart from the evil in the world and draw us into a complete relationship with Himself. He says “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
How incredible to think God loves us as much as he does His own Son!
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from Alberta Canada where she lives with her pastor/husband. She is the author of two contemporary novels, four fantasy novels, and four devotional books. Visit her online at www.marcialeelaycock.com
It was an interesting sensation. The sand was damp and jiggled under my feet as though I was walking on a bed of gelatin.
My beach shoes had been torn a few days earlier when I tripped over some wood stuck in the sand. The holes were getting larger and wet sand was oozing in around my toes.
It was unpleasant and I decided to turn back. The squishing as I walked was uncomfortable and I stepped into the water to clean my feet. As I stood, watching the clear water of the waves wash over my feet, removing the dirt, I had a revelation.
It was as though I felt the Holy Spirit telling me this was how my sins were washed away. All I needed to do was to be willing to step out and invite the cleansing flow to wash over me. When I confess my sins to the Lord, he is faithful and just to forgive them and to cleanse me.
Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 GWT)
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us, (1 John 1:9 GWT)
I had just returned from a walk along a tropical beach. This is not a groomed for tourists beach, but one in its natural state.
For this reason I needed to watch my step. Small fishing boats are held by ropes secured on the shore. The rope may be flat on the sand and not easy to see. The breeze tosses the boat, the rope becomes taught, and if I’m in the process of stepping over it, I may be tripped.
There are also remains of sand bags protruding from the sand. Some are easy to see and others are mostly buried. I have stumbled on the torn edges barely visible above the sand but have also been caught by the ones clearly visible.
It’s one thing to be tripped by an obstacle I can’t see and quite another to see the potential problem and still get caught.
I was thinking about being aware of my surroundings and watching my step when I realized this same attitude would serve me well in life. It’s when I become overconfident in my own abilities I tend to trip.
On our walks, my husband often tells me, “Watch your step.” His guidance has helped to keep me from harm.
In my life I rely on Jesus to guide me. He watches my steps. When my attention is elsewhere he catches me when I stumble and sets my feet firmly beneath me once again.
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:24 NIV)
The tide was out and I was able to walk along the firm sand at the water’s edge, rather than the softer sand a little farther inland. I strolled along enjoying the morning sun and the clear water lapping beside me.
Without warning, the sand beneath my feet collapsed. Wet sand oozed through the fabric of my beach shoes and reached to my ankles.
When I looked around I realized that this area appeared the same as the one I had just walked along. Nothing was visible to warn me that my next step would be on shifting sand.
How is this a reflection of my life? One minute I’m carrying on, doing what is familiar and then without warning the landscape changes. It seems as if the ground under my feet has become unstable, no longer firm and secure. I look for a solid spot for my next step but am unsure where to find it.
People and things are fleeting. We may start out with the best intentions but can’t or don’t always follow through.
The only firm foundation I know is to put my trust in Jesus. He is the solid rock beneath my feet. I know that my steps are secure when Jesus is guiding them.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT)