Three children, two boys and a girl, raced to the shore giggling as they went. The boys must’ve been 6 and 7, the girl 4. Stairsteps, dressed in clothes rather than swimming suits. Maybe they came straight from the car at the end of a long journey. I do not know. What I do know is that they were thrilled to see the ocean, quite possibly for the first time, gauging from their reaction. They caught the eye of most everyone on the beach with their squeals of delight. It appeared that they were going to run headlong into the surf until the fizzing foam rose up on the sand just short of their feet…stopping them in their tracks. They waited until the water slid back, then they advanced. When the next wave came crashing, they ran back up keeping just ahead of it. Up and back, up and back. They continued their joyous game of tag with the sea. Never once did they get wet, making sure to stay far enough back to avoid it.
Then they got a little more brave, standing so that just their toes got wet. Shrill screams of pleasure were the result. Above the crashing of the waves, you could hear bits and pieces of their conversation, but more of their laughter and sheer playful squealing. Soon all three of them were standing close enough that when the waves broke they were in the splash zone. Holding their shorts and dress up high to avoid soaking their clothes proved to be feudal. The boys decided to stand in one place while the sand moved away under their feet with each wave. The girl was finished and was back up with her grandma. Soon the boys were knee deep in sand, still oblivious to the way they had captured the attention of everyone. To me it seemed as if they were playing tag with God. The happiness was shining from their thrilled faces.
Just down the beach was another young boy. Maybe 4 or 5. He too was playing in the waves. Dressed for the day he wore a bathing suit with the floats sewn into it. He too was running to and fro, and from time to time sitting in the sand to gather shell fragments, his red curly hair shining in the sun. Soon his father came out of the ocean where he had been riding waves. He held out his hand for his son to come to him. The boy hesitated only a second before grabbing hold. The look on the son’s face was one of apprehension, but his trust of his father overcame the fear. Soon the two were out in the surf riding the waves. The boy was on his father’s back holding on around his neck. More giggles and hollering followed. The two were living in the moment, the father exuberant in showing his son what the ocean was like, the son just thrilled to be with the father exploring new territory.
These were two beautiful scenes playing side by side on the beach yesterday. The enthusiasm of the day made time stand still for all of these children. They will always remember this day. I think we are like the children. There is an ocean of God’s love and mercy we were given in which to play. We come and at first, we are enthralled just to look at it. We are amazed. Then we get a bit more brave, and begin to test the water. We put our toes in, then ankle deep. We long to go into the deeper places of his love, but we are not confident, and it looks scary, so we are content to joyfully play along the shore. But the Father, God, invites us to come further. He holds out his hand and waits for our response. Will we go deeper? Will we let him show us the thrills of the waves of his mercy and grace? In order to arrive in the unfathomable depth of his love we must trust him. Even when it is scary, we must know that he will care for us. He is safe and he longs to demonstrate that to us. We cannot comprehend how deep he will take us if we will hold fast to him. His love is as bottomless as the ocean. His grace washes over us like the waves. His mercy is unending as far as you can see. If you take his hand, you will never look at the ocean the same again.