I used to go to the beach to get away from it all. In many ways, my global neighbors and I are a lot alike, and the beach is one of the big ways. Peace and tranquility and rest are prepackaged upon the shores of this world. All you need is a Visa or MasterCard, three to five day’s time, and whatever traveling mechanism is available to get you where you need to go. I have walked, flown, driven, and even hopped on a golf cart, to successfully escape reality for a deep breathe of comfort.
Although sought and paid for, I appreciated being able to pull the covers up over my eyes (in more ways than one) to an oversized, fluffy, ridiculousness of a bed, and sleep. After awaking, I would grab a cold beer, turn the music up, and disappear into a different kind of bed – sand. Leisure, a tan, great food, new friends, and blurred lines all equaled out to success. But as we know, success is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it beauty? No matter, if it’s false or borrowed, the paid illusion is justified to cover up the weight of chains. Both, success and beauty have been used to give a false representation of who we have become.
I can remember the very first afternoon that my tried and true method of prepackaged tranquility did not work. There I sat, on the beach, drink in hand and miserable. A sinking feeling washed over my face; that sitting and staring at the ocean could no longer drown out the noise – not even for even a moment. The sound of the waves crashing, so gently and methodically into the sides of the shore, did not comfort me. Not even with a buzz attached. The birds, the sun, the whites and the blues, and the smell of sea, did nothing. I could always find temporary relief in gazing deep into the horizon, where water and sky melted into one. And from that moment on, I thought the waves were haunting me. I felt my heavy chains dig deep into my wrists and ankles on the shore that day.
Eventually, you will come to term with your chains. You can do it now or God can do it for you later. Because you can only go on, pay for, hide, or run from reality for so long. A slave is still a slave on the beach, even within the most sought out and nicest shores in the world. You can be a slave to money, sex, drugs, people or alcohol. Or your chains can look less evident. Perfection, good works, pride and anger are still rock solid metal grips of entrapment, and they do a great job in holding your hands behind your back. But again, a slave is still a slave on the beach. You either want freedom or you spend the rest of your days surviving.
It takes courage to face reality. It takes honesty and bravery and gumption to look in the mirror and really see the person staring back at her for who she is. What does your reflection say? I know what mine used to say. The very sad girl who used to stare back at me; she was so lost and scared and numbed and exhausted. So tired of all the fronts, the fragmented parts of life that I had created. The lies, the façade, the anger, regret, and shame that can pack itself into a soul and run deep. That’s when the waves haunt you. You can no longer enjoy them for what they are. So the water floats in your mind.
When I finally realized all my illusions, I almost couldn’t handle it. I noticed just how small of a cell that held the remnants of a life. I was distanced, shallow, hollowed out, and alone. That’s the desert place. When you realize that dried out bones are all that is left. You look around for water, for truth, for a saving grace, only to find ghosts. So, you keep running, keep searching, keep crawling, just keep keeping whatever, to stay alive.
Then, one day you give up. You lay yourself down with all the chains wrapped around you. On that day, in the desert, there’s not a person, a kiss, a drink or job that will help. It’s the hottest part of the day, and your more than hollowed out. You literally feel dead. Yes, your hearts beating, but that’s about it. You hear it go thump, thump, thump against the hard ground floor. Almost in an echo against white noise. The beating of your heart seems so very far from you. A memory comes. Someone starts whispering about the weary finding rest, the dead brought back to life; and you close your eyes. At the most unlikeliest of places, on the cracked dry floor of a desert place, you find that you are offered Living Water. Jesus is there, lying right next to you. Breathing words of comfort into your soul.
I found that truth ran much deeper than fear. I found a spirit deep within my soul that reflected the real me. And when I learned to name the chain, one by one, each and every time, Jesus said, “I paid for that”. And each and every time Jesus was there to teach me, and talk to me, hold me, and piece me back together. Slowly, through His Word, my soul cried out, “Abba, Father”. And much like a mosaic, my true reflection started to appear. Eventually, no longer a slave in a cell, I saw a daughter and an heir.
The beaches look different now. I can hear when the wind gently nudge the waves to come and play with the shore. I can see the birds revel in the glory of God in the flight of their wings. I don’t have to steal away for three to five days on a buzz, to cover up so much. Now, I sit on the shore of the beach a free person, and a daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I found healing in truth, grace and truth to be exact. The hard truth that no one can find freedom except through the precious blood of Jesus and the grace part that accepted me with arms wide open.
Jesus died and rose again so you could experience eternal life in Him and through Him. The chains come falling off, like the sweetest, most amazing miracle, of all time. No longer are you pulling the covers up over your own eyes.
No – not any more.
Now you find your hands extended high above your head in admiration, praising and thanking and giving glory to the God on High. All that once used to be hidden in shame and fear; now set free in admiration and thanks.
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who call out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:6-7;NIV).
The desert place of your soul can be realized on a beach, in Italy, when you are old, young, or somewhere in-between. God whispers, gently, alluring you to come drink Living Water. Come, run, stumble or fall into the unrelenting love of Jesus. He will turn your desert place of despair into the most beautiful song of hope you have ever heard.
And nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever be the same again.