To the north, the sky was breaking into color like someone unleased a three year old with a box of crayons, but to the south, clouds lay heavy across the skyline dark as charcoal, like Van Gogh painting during a bout of despair.
“Always face North,” that’s what I tell my girls, and even the weather backed me tonight.
We climbed the dune barefoot against the cold, squeaky sand. Part way up, tucked behind the beach grasses, we surprised a couple entangled in a hammock. And they surprised us. I expect we were the answer to some mother’s prayers in the mysterious sovereignty of God because they packed up and headed out while we laid out our blankets at the peak of the rise and scanned the horizon. The water reflected gray off the sky except for the stripes marking the sandbars. The seagulls scrounged for crumbs along the shore until a Labrador puppy chased them out into the Lake.
My “little” engineered stair steps up the dune with only her hands and her ingenuity, while my “bigger” girl and her kindred spirit, the one who came to us from down South, sat cross legged talking easy about everything and nothing all intermingled. We took a couple of selfies and I complained about my image so my girl, she picked some wildflowers growing rogue on branches in the sand and wove them into my hair.
“Mommers,” she commented endearingly “now you look like a teenager.” She spoke confidently, then picked up her iphone and snapped a series of pictures, mindful to avoid the angles that accentuate my double chin or feature my crooked teeth and minimize the creases that permanently mark my forehead.
As I contemplated the waves, I thought about my 50 years and countless trips to this beach. And the breakers, they just keep rolling in and pounding against the shore, every single time. They are unharnessable like the God who reveals Himself in the steady beat of their rhythm. And I am a spectator, watching His power and plan on display in the story of the water and in all of my stories.
The charcoal sky crept up on us as drops of rain began to fall steady, so we grabbed our blankets and trekked across the beach, down the path through the woods to the parking lot. And I heard a song in my head, louder than the waves.
“From where I’m standing, Lord it’s so hard for me to see where this is going,
And where You’re leading me.
I wish I knew how all my fears and all my questions are gonna play out,
In a world I can’t control.
From where You’re standing, Lord, You see a grand design that You imagined when You breathed me into life.
And all the chaos comes together in Your hands like a masterpiece of Your picture perfect plan.
When I’m lost in the mystery, to You my future is a memory, ’cause You’re already there,
You’re already there.
Standing at the end of my life, waiting on the other side.
You’re already there. You’re already there.”
(Already There, Casting Crowns)
It’s just our first beach trip of the season and I can’t predict this summer either. It’s pure mystery, totally unharnessable, except for the assurance that His goodness and mercy are as inevitable as the waves lapping against the shore.