Every Sunday we go out to the beach to watch the sunset. Jenny and I have been going for years, sometimes along with our amazing children. It’s inspirational and transformational. Whenever you’re wrestling with a decision, working through an idea, discovering who you are, or just bracing yourself for a new week, it pays to be in the company of something elemental. A consciousness of something deeper and more profound, something primal, always helps. Get yourself to the shore, or to the mountains. Even sitting by a fire helps put things in perspective.
My challenges, my ideas, my existence are fueled by that amazing fire in the sky. That life-giving warmth and light happen whether I know it or not, and in fact whether I like it or not. Tonight the Sun will set, but it will rise again in the morning, independent of how I feel about it or if I acknowledge it at all. In fact, the Sun doesn’t really set at all, does it? We turn.
When I feel far from God, it’s good to acknowledge that He didn’t go anywhere. Seeing that sunset helps me remember that I have the power to turn, and return, and that that life and love will never change. It reminds me that the universe takes care of its own. Standing on the shore, holding Jenny’s hand as the light changes, is my way of consciously agreeing with God. It’s a thanksgiving, not just for the beautiful demonstration, but also for the people I get to share it with.
Recently we’ve invited other folks to join us. You are welcome, too. I’m so honored to be a part of this community of friends. I wonder if this is how churches get started.
Then again, church is more than a group of friends. It isn’t just reflection, and it certainly isn’t just validation. It’s a calling. It’s not church unless your experience makes you want to do and be more. It’s not church if it doesn’t help you make a difference in the world. In a recent episode of the podcast I said that church ought to feel less like a steam bath and more like a plane full of parachutists getting ready to jump.
Some folks are content to stand at the shoreline of life. But the ocean is calling. I think of the times I’ve seen groups of surfers floating together, encouraging one another to take the next wave, sometimes racing each other to get to the front of the line. I think of them cheering each other on while steeling themselves for their next run. There’s a lesson there.
There are big wave surfers; brave men and women who go miles out to sea in order to experience waves the size of office buildings, risking life and limb along the way. Doing that involves vision and practice, willingness and action, and, ultimately, release. It’s an embodiment of the see, speak, and surrender process; prayer in action. More than anything, though, it’s a matter of calling.
The ocean is calling. Our source, the mechanism that drives our weather, the tide that carries us home is always there. When we really listen, we can hear it. The next step is action.
I don’t need to paddle out to meet the waves. But I understand, and I’m grateful. When I’m doing this right I’m conscious of a presence and power so much greater than me. I feel the need to engage and also to let go. It’s who I am. It’s who we are.