I love sitting on the beach, watching the waves break on the shore, feeling the cool breeze on my face. The environment is restful and relaxing. I feel peaceful and calm, totally at ease. Jimmy Buffett has the right idea—cheeseburgers and margarita’s, flip flops and boat drinks. If it was up to me, I would be sitting on the beach every day.
My life usually feels less like sitting on the beach and more like being out in the water getting pounded by the waves.
I drown in the expectations to be a better husband, dad. I feel overwhelmed with work, duties and responsibilities. The waves I face are big, scary and relentless, and I wonder how much longer I can keep my head above water.
I love the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music. One of my favorite lines is “You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.” Those words give me a sense of calm and confidence in times when all I really feel is afraid and overwhelmed.
The Bible talks a lot about fear and courage. The angels always seem to be telling someone “Do not fear.” God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, a message he would need as he would lead the army of Israel against their enemies. The Bible is full of verses about the fear of God. The fear of God brings blessing (Ps 112:1, 115:13, 128:1), prolongs life (Prov 10:27), brings riches, honor and life (Prov 19:23, 22:4). We’re supposed to be courageous and fear God? That’s confusing to me. What is this “fear?”
I know what the fear of God is not.
It’s not the emotion you sense when you’re in a haunted house at Halloween. You know the guy with the chainsaw will jump out, you just don’t know when. This fear is not the sick feeling in your stomach that you got when your mother told you “Just wait until your father gets home.” Again, what is it?
One pastor described this fear as the feeling we would have if we were out of His reach. To use his illustration, imagine taking one of your children to the beach for their first time. The waves are pounding and so loud, and you can feel the water sucking the sand out from under your feet. Your child is wide-eyed and terrified, clutching your leg as the water reaches their knees. As you continue to walk out, you end up picking up your child as they cling to you. They are terrified to be away from you, terrified that they would be washed away without your strength.
I wish I could be safe on the beach with a cold drink in my hands. However, followers of Christ aren’t called to sit safe on the shore. Jesus told the disciples to go across the Sea of Galilee and they sailed right into a storm. Why should it be any different for us? Our need of God is only revealed when we are pushed past our limits. God calls us into the rough waters to follow Him.
We can’t snorkel from the beach. We have to get into the water to have wild adventures, to do great things, to do anything that matters. How else could we experience the breathless excitement of surfing for the first time? But we can’t experience the rush of success without the fear of failure. Sometimes the waves will be too big, and sometimes we will wipe out before even getting on our feet.
We can only do these things and have these adventures if we follow Him off the beach and into the waves. We can only do that if we know that we are safe within His grasp.
No matter the size of the waves, no matter the storms that come, I know our Father will keep us safe. Just like you kept your child safe when they were clinging to you, terrified of the water around them. The only chance we have to see the power of God work through us is to get in over our heads. It’s only when we walk out from the shore that we experience the exhilaration of riding the waves.
What are some of the things that keep you on the beach?