Safe harbor

I tiptoed out into the dawn, trying not to disturb children or dogs. Stepping into a post card sunrise, I had to pause in awe before my morning walk on the beach. Without my camera, which I left at home, I have only my words to paint the picture I saw. Words cannot do this kind of beauty justice, but I still must at least attempt to communicate the majesty of the sea at daybreak.
Water meets sky in shades of pink. Clouds that started as blue-gray turn into three-dimensional pink cotton puffs with brilliant glowing rims. The shafts of sunlight rise to heaven. Or is it the other way around? Dawn breaks through and the day begins. The sea oats sway upon the dunes, greeting the sun. A squadron of pelicans float across the waves in perfect formation. Gulls swoop and play overhead with the breeze. Sandpipers are racing on tiny legs, chasing the waves in and out as if they are playing tag. The waves do not thunder yet, they are still asleep. Tenderly they lap upon the sand with foamy voices that call me to come and walk. The water is changing colors as I begin…charcoal to deep blue to green…emeralds shining, sparkling in the sunlight. The sea breeze gently kisses my face, easing the sunburn left over from yesterday. I walk into it hoping to avoid the heat for a few more minutes so I can get my walk in for the day. At first, I don’t really have a set distance in mind. The clouds are hiding the heat like a shield for me, so I walk, enjoying the sounds of the surf, smelling the salty air, and scanning the ground for shells. I notice a pier in the distance so I set it as my goal. The sea is waking up and the waves are beginning to rumble when they crash into the shore. The sound of that power is soothing, like a the heartbeat of God.
It is early enough that there are very few people on the beach. The tide is out, so the firm sand stretches wide enough for the handful of joggers and people with dogs. Occasionally there are small rivers of water I must jump over in order to keep my shoes from getting wet. I keep moving at a pretty good pace, but the pier seems just as far away as before. I tell myself that I am in no hurry, I can take the extra time to go the whole distance…whatever that is. Eventually I leave the patchwork of beach houses and cross into a state park area. My way goes from commercial to natural. Here the sea oats stand taller than I am. The beach is undisturbed except for the carpet of seashells of all shapes and colors. The sun is peaking out from behind the clouds to warn me of the heat to come.
The pier is bigger now, but I have come to realize it is playing tricks on my eyes. An hour and a half in and my morning stroll has become an unintentional training walk. I refuse to turn back before making my goal (Sometimes being goal oriented can have its disadvantages.) On I walk. When I finally reach the pier, there are huge rocks covered with barnacles blocking the beach. Between them tide pools filled with small creatures waiting for the tide to come in. The rocks run the length of the pier and beyond, creating a jetty. Around the tip of the island, I see water that is smooth as glass. After the pounding of the waves along my way, I am surprised when silence greets me. It is a drastic difference from just moments ago. I sit among the rocks and listen to the quiet on one side of me and the noisy waves on the other. It is an odd sensation that confuses my ears, until I hear the whisper, “It is a safe harbor.”
Immediately, I know that voice. Immediately, I breathe in what God is saying. The ocean shows me his vastness. His faithfulness. His majesty. The harbor shows me he is safe. He is gentle. He is peace. These are seemingly contrasting pictures of God, yet both are so very much a part of his character. Today the safe harbor was my destination, even though I was unaware of it. I needed to see that peace can be found in the midst of all the noise of a beautiful life. I needed to know that when God says, “Be still and know” it is possible to do so. My soul can rest even when there is activity all around me, when it is clear or when a storm comes, because the safe harbor does not change. It is a place created for protection.
I reflected on the long, long walk back. I cannot help but think that we get caught up in our lives and forget the harbor he has formed for us. The more heartache we face, the more tempting it is to look around us at the circumstances. We can find ourselves drowning in no time at all. Where do you think panic and anxiety come from? We have lost our way to the safe harbor. If we can find it, and sit to soak it in, we will feel peace return because the outcome of a trial will no longer matter. We can immerse ourselves in the safety of God. We can run to him for a respite from life, be it good times or bad. Today, things were postcard perfect and I still found the harbor spoke calm to my soul. As much as the pounding of the waves revealed his power, the peace of the harbor revealed his grace. He has the ability to do both at the same time, and that makes him trustworthy. It makes him the safe harbor.

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