I arrive parched, thirsty to drink in the delights of the big Lake every June. Hungry for its soul food.
And it never disappoints me.
Our van erupts in squeals at the first sighting.
There it is, the icon of summer—Lake Michigan.
I have known you in all seasons. I have heard you speak softly as gentle waves dance onto the shore. Other times your voice thunders with rhythmic, pounding surf and in the dead of winter your language is heard in the stillness of the frozen, snow covered icecaps.
No matter how old I get, I never outgrow the wonder of your beauty. You still take my breath away.
Up and down the natural shoreline, towns dot the coast. Each flaunts it’s own unique persona, each with it’s own charm.
But, Grand Haven is one of my favorites.
I love the aroma of fresh waffle cones wafting past the trolley stop where we wait for a ride. The kids board and race to the back where they can stand and wave at all of the cars to the rear. They craft homemade signs with customized messages saying, “Wave if you like ice cream.” And “Honk if you like chocolate.” They they count their responses as they ride. “I got 74 waves, mama, “ Starla says as the trolley drops us off at the beach where we wriggle our toes in the gritty sand and our feet are washed in the cold waves. Castles and moats are crafted and washed away as the tide rises.
The seagulls dive and scrounge, singing.
As the sun sets, we join the masses on their pilgrimage to the end of the pier where the hopeful fishermen cast out their lines. We walk to the very end, out past the lighthouse and watch the historic sailing vessel full of passengers turn into the channel from the lake, as the sky becomes an original artists canvas in front of us, and we wave.
The channel is the main thoroughfare for boat traffic, complete with a parking lot for docking between the big lake and the inland waterway. It’s sandwiched between downtown to the east and Dewey Hill on the west. Every night of summer, for all of my years, the hill has come alive at 10:00 p.m. Massive, colored water fountains dance to the rhythm of music while families eat ice cream cones on blankets and couples cuddle close in the brisk night air.
Sunday nights at the channel have always been my favorite. That’s when people pack into the stadium with its makeshift stage which edges along the waterfront. We fill the bleachers and overflow onto blankets in soft green grass to worship together. As I take it all in, the sights, smells, sounds–the people I’ve loved for decades sitting next to me–a bunch of our kids in tow, worshiping together in the sanctuary only God could design. It’s nothing short of a taste of heaven. And I embrace this beautiful life I am living in this moment. Boat motors chug along and often stop to listen. I see a man silhouetted against the setting sun. He is on his boat, arms extended wide and high and he too is overwhelmed with wonder.
The band called Sidewalk Prophets sings on this night. We sit so close to the speakers that my chest drums out the rhythm of the bass guitar. As the sun says goodnight in a wave of color sinking behind Dewey Hill, the finale is sung. And these are the words:
Sometimes I think, what will people say of me when I’m only just a memory?
When I’m home where my soul belongs.
Was I love when no one else would show up?
Was I Jesus to the least of us?
Was my worship more than just a song?
Am I proof that You are who you say You are?
That grace can really change our heart?
Do I live like Your love is true?
People pass and even if they don’t know my name, is there evidence that I’ve been changed?
When they see me, do they see You?
I want to live like that and give it all I have so that everything I say and do points to You.
If love is who I am then this is where I’ll stand–recklessly abandoned, never holding back.
I want to show the world the love You gave for me.
I’m longing for the world to know the glory of the King.
I want to live like that.
And I think about my years—all 47 of them completed now.
How quickly the grains of sand have sifted through the hourglass. It is more than half empty.
I reflect on all I have been given…. and all I have squandered. I feel an involuntary sigh release.
It’s that melancholy temperament stealing my joy again–causing me to critique when this moment is meant to be savored. There is a time for everything and all moments are not made for analysis.
So I listen closer as the sun dips below the hill and the sky tints pinks and oranges.
And assessment is replaced with gratitude for this brief life that God has gifted me with.
And the song transitions from reflection on the past and turns forward looking.
“I want to live like that”……
And I realize it’s not about where I have been or even who I am today but instead, what I can be as He continues to shower me with His mercies that are fresh and new every morning.
And therein is my hope for the 365 days of year number 48 that is mine to grab hold of.