13 Life Lessons I Learned at the Beach

  1. Every minute counts. Grab the opportunity when it comes, it might not come back. 
    Sometimes I would see a beautiful shell wash up on shore and think, “I’ll get that in a minute,” but by the time I got around to picking it up, it was too late.  I’d missed my opportunity.  Don’t assume you can “do it later.”  Later might never come.
  2. My kids want me to be WITH them, not just watch them.
    Isn’t that so much like our God? He wants us to be with Him, to live in fellowship and relationship with Him, rather than just knowing about Him.
  3. But, sometimes it’s ok to watch. We don’t always have to be the ones in the water.
    Over the years, God has grown my faith both in the doing and in the watching.  God’s hand has been visible to me both while I’m at work and while I’m standing on the sidelines.  I am thankful for both.  Sometimes my kids just want me to watch them and cheer them on from my comfy chair in the sand.
  4. When we’re called, we’ve got to get in the water, even if it’s scary.
    This reminds me of 1 Peter 3:6 where we are admonished to “do good” and “not fear anything that is frightening.”  The unknowns of the water terrify me.  There might be sharks, jellyfish and flesh-eating bacteria living in that water.  And yet, there’s also a beautiful starfish lying just out of reach and fun memories with my kids to be found in that same water.  God frequently is calling me to “get out of the boat” to do something that grows my faith and shows off His power.  If I don’t follow His calling, I’ll miss out on the unknown joys awaiting me.  This reminds me of the “Oceans” song.
  5. The battle doesn’t end just because we wade out into the water.
    As mentioned in lesson #3, it’s easier for me to stay on the beach than to make the jump into the water. I wish that once that battle to get the water was won, that the war was over.  That is not the case.  Getting in the water, begins the new battle of staying in the water.  How often has God beckoned me to get in the ocean, only for me to retreat back to the safe shore?
    This reminds me of a talk that Priscilla Shirer gave titled “Don’t Abandon Your Boat.”  I’d encourage you to be blessed to listen to it for yourself.
  6. Life is safer in groups.
    When I see people out in the deep water all by themselves, I wonder about their sanity. When God calls me to go out into that water, He is going to send people to be by my side for my encouragement and protection.  I’m thankful for the safety provided through the covering of my husband and the joy of my children.
  7. Doing hard things gets easier with practice.
    The first time I went out into the water, I was terrified, but I went. I trusted and I went.  The fear was less the second time I went out and the third time I was able to enjoy the experience more because the terror had become less.  This is life.  Sometimes we have to force ourselves to take that first step and trust that the Lord will help us keep going.
  8. Sometimes we mess up someone else’s plans without even meaning to.
    While working on making a sand castle, I saw a nice big pile of unattended sand and started scooping it up into my bucket. A few minutes later, a sweet young mom humbly asked that I leave it there as her son had worked to make that ramp.  I apologized sincerely and thought to myself, “How often have I thought someone else was ruining my plans on purpose?”  I wondered if he thought I was intentionally tearing down his ramp, when I was simply unaware of his plans.  Lord, help me to be humble like that gentle mama and ask kindly for someone to go find their sand somewhere else.
  9. There’s an awful lot of sun-worshippers out there.
    I am amazed at how many people are tanned, and I mean tanned from head to toe. How did this happen?  This had obviously taken countless hours of near-naked time spent in the sun.  Why?  This was clearly more than a week’s vacation at the beach or many hours spent gardening or watching their child play baseball.  This was a lifestyle of sun-worship.  Why?   What is our purpose in life?  Can that purpose be fulfilled through innumerable days and weeks of nothing more than laying on a beach or in a tanning bed?  Food for thought.
  10. You can work on something for hours and one big wave can wipe it all out.
    Enough said.
  11. Our ways are not necessarily His ways, and our plans are not necessarily our friend’s plans.
    When I began working on that sandcastle of mine, my husband jumped in to help. Within minutes, he was creating a sandcastle that far surpassed anything I could have built.  If I had clung to the measly plans that I had made and the paltry vision that was in my mind, if I had argued with him about what that sandcastle was “supposed to look like,” I would have missed out on the grand project that he had in store for me.
  12. When we’re afraid of something, it can seem real, even when it’s not.
    Last summer at a beach just a few miles up the way from here, my daughter Noelle was stung twice by a jelly fish. This year at the beach, even though we have not seen one single jellyfish, Daniel has repeatedly removed himself from the water to ask his dad or I if there was a mark on him because he kept feeling like he’d been stung.  Or for me, because of my ridiculous allergy to poison ivy, I am frequently overwhelmed by fear when I feel the slightest itch or see any three-leaved green thing.
    Shortly after returning home, a friend emailed me about a struggle she’s been going through and she shared this acronym with me: FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.  Wow!  How timely and true.
  13. God answers prayers, but we need to keep our eyes open for those answers.
    As I was sitting on the beach, watching the endless waves, I was prompted by the Spirit to ask God to send a dolphin for me to see.  So, I prayed.  And I sat with my hand shading my eyes scanning the horizon.  Sure enough, minutes later, I saw several large white splashes of water with something cresting over the waves.  This was a gift to me.  I knew that if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have received this gift.  And I knew that if I hadn’t watched, I would’ve missed the answer.  Once again, I’m reminded that we need to both ask and watch.  My faith was grown even in this little answered prayer.
    God sees me.  He knows me.  Which reminds me of a cheesy little song I learned when I first became a Christ-follower.

What life lessons has the Lord been teaching you, whether on the beach or doing the mundane daily work of life?

For Him and through Him and in Him,

TWIG