Last week I was visiting my daughter and her family in Homer. They live just outside of town on the side of a hill that overlooks beautiful Kachemak Bay. It is a very scenic view every day. From her house, the water appears very calm, maybe at times a few white caps can be seen, but still appears to be relatively calm. A little later in the day, the water still looked calm from our vantage point, but then we saw a boat, I guess to be about 35-footer, struggling through the water, being tossed about with ocean spray splashing over its hull. The water seemed calm, but for the boat in the water, it was anything but calm.
We drove up on the bluff overlooking the Homer Spit and saw the beautiful panoramic scenery of the bay and the mountains. Again, I noticed the waves coming in and crashing against the spit. It created this wide, white band along the seaward side of the Spit. From high above, it was beautiful; the white water contrasted against the dark blue of the water and the land.
Then we drove down onto the spit. We parked where we could watch the rollers coming in and six- to eight-foot waves crashing against the shore. It was loud. It was forceful. And it was awesome to watch! I noticed on one part of the beach, a 20-foot treetop that had washed in with the tide. It was rolling around in the surf with no place to find solid ground. I imagined, “What it that were me?”
What if it was me being tossed around helplessly? What if it were me trying to find solid ground to rest and be at peace, because what was happening in my world was crazy and out of control? What if I just wanted some peace and calm; an escape from the advancing and retreating waves that were crashing all around me, tossing me back and forth as they advanced toward the rocky shore?
Life feels like that sometimes. We feel we are at the mercy of the tide, the waves and the forceful winds of life coming against us. We feel we are fighting circumstances we can’t control, and we are just trying to get a foothold somewhere, somehow. We become physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. It feels like the churning and darkness will never end. Many times our world feels like a very dark spiritual place where God is so distant.
Then, I thought of the different perspectives about those waves. From the bluff and from my daughter’s home seeing the boat struggling through the waves; from seeing up close the power of those waves on the shore, I thought of what God said of himself to Isaiah. Isaiah 55:8-9 of the Old Testament says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
What that said to me was that fighting the waves of our circumstances that is all around us, feels overwhelming. But the overall picture of what is going on in our lives isn’t the hopeless and despair we are feeling, but a tapestry of love and grace, of maturing and growing that God is creating in our lives, that even includes him working within the circumstances we face from day to day. Were we to see our life from the bluff, we would see a whole different picture. From outside my struggles, I see the rest of life and I see the lives of others and I see that my world is not confined to the struggle of the moment, but is made up of many moments both very hard and amazingly wonderful.
My week in Homer was a welcome respite to a very busy summer. It was good to get a fresh perspective on things, on life, on God, yes and on all the stuff that is rolling around in the wild surf of my life. It is a great opportunity to get perspective. It restores hope. It reminds us of God’s sovereignty and grace. And reminds us how much he really does love us.
The Apostle Paul was talking about perspective as he reflected on the hope we have through the resurrection of Christ and what that means to believers and followers of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, he writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
To get the eternal perspective on our life we keep our eyes on Jesus. He will see us through this life and the circumstances we encounter. Jesus is the “Author and the Perfecter of our Faith.” And he will never leave us nor forsake us. That is his promise to us!
• Daniel Wiese is the pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.