Beach Days

Today is a rainy, cloudy day.  As I sit here and sip my favorite ginger-peach tea, I find myself thinking about another wet and dreary day a few weeks ago.  It was cold and we all piled into the car to go to church.  X-man was not thrilled with the chill in the air and he came up with an infallible scheme: “I want to go to the beach!  It is always warm there and it never rains!”

His certainty comes from his vast experience with the beach last summer.  A group of young moms from our church gathered every Tuesday from June through August at a beach about 40 minutes from our home.  We joined them nearly every week as it was absolutely wonderful.  The kids enjoyed playing with their friends in the sand and ocean.  The moms enjoyed fellowship with one another and the beauty of God’s creation.  I was thrilled with the exercise it offered my kids- they ran and climbed and dug and laughed- and I truly loved how well they slept that afternoon and night!

At first, we brought sand toys every week.  But not too many weeks into it, I decided that taking three children, lunches, towels, and a stroller were quite enough to be carrying.  I was surprised to discover how unnecessary the sand toys were.  The texture of the sand between their toes and fingers, scrambling on the rocks, and chasing the rolling waves fully occupied them.  They took great delight purely in God’s great and awesome creation.  And also, they had fun sharing the toys that the other kids brought.  🙂

The fresh air, the gentle sound of the waves breaking on the shore, the sparkling sun, the warm sand, and the conversation with other moms were a source of great delight and refreshment for my spirit.

Playing in the sand

Making a sand castle

Their holiday at the sea

Digging in the mud

Loving the wet sand

Chasing the waves

He found a toy to play with

Imagination turns a log into a boat

All the while, Z-urchin eats sand- I'm not sure why I ever packed a lunch for him

As I reflect on all the fun we had last summer at the beach and as I look at the these pictures of the kids playing in the mud and making sand castles, I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’s sermon, “Weight of Glory.”  He said,

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion … is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

It is a thought-provoking idea that our natural desires are not too strong, but are too weak.  We long for the enjoyment of things that are far less delightful than what God desires for us.  I have always been amazed at what David said, in Psalm 16,

“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing… You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

And in Psalm 73, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Remembering how my children absolutely delighted in their weekly holiday at the sea inspires me to take the time to really ponder how to delight in the Lord.  If I fill my heart with His words, my mind can delight in His truths.  If I take the time to count my blessings every day, I can delight in His provision and the gifts He has lavished upon me.  If I fellowship with His people I can delight in the encouragement of His love and wisdom given through them.  If I work cheerfully at the tasks He has given to me, I can delight in the purpose and significance He has granted to me.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s song  “See the Glory”  reminds me to delight in God’s abundant grace.

Every star in the sky tells His story,
And every breeze is singing His song
All of creation is imploring
Hey, come see this grand phenomenon
The wonder of His grace Should take my breath away
I miss so many things when I’m content with …
Playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon
Or eating candy sittin’ at a gourmet feast
Or wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean
I know the time has come for me to
Wake up and see the glory

His grace has given me life, hope, a future, rich and abundant blessings reserved for me in heaven.  His grace has given me a Savior, His Word, the indwelling Holy Spirit.  His grace has given me a marriage that refreshes my spirit, precious children that delight my soul, and a calling into the life of homeschooling that is so much fun!  His grace has given me a home, food to eat, and clothes to wear.  God’s will for us is to “Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (I Thessalonians 5)  Some days- in some circumstances- this is very hard to do.  But bringing these things to mind- His grace and the blessings He has showered upon me- it is easier to give thanks and praise to the One who loves us more than anyone else ever could.


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