Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 13, 2012

Some of My Most Favorite Things About a Beach Vacation (And What They Teach Me About God)

I love going to the beach! For practically as long as I can remember, if we were able to take a vacation, we went to the beach. Going to the beach and going on vacation pretty much meant the same thing. I can remember taking our kids to some of the same beaches that I went to with my parents, not to mention those special vacations when we all went to the beach together and enjoyed a family beach vacation – grandparents and parents, sisters and brothers, and all the kids.

This past week my husband and I, along with our two daughters, went to the beach for vacation. Although we had never vacationed at this particular beach, I somehow felt at home as I enjoyed all the things I love about the beach. And as I shared the week with my husband and daughters and pondered all the joys and blessings, I realized that all these things taught me a lot about God. Thus emerged the following list about some of my most favorite things about a beach vacation and what they teach me about God.

*Seafood (God planned for and provides for His children.)

Fresh, bountiful seafood  – often delivered by boats pulled right up to the dock outside the restaurant doors! Steaming plates piled high with crusty fried flounder, shrimp, oysters, and deviled crabs. Watching the fishermen work their catch reminds me of God’s provision. From the very beginning God planned everything that man would need before He created man. He made the heavens and the earth, day and night. He gathered all the waters together into lakes, rivers, and seas, and made the dry land appear. God made grass to grow on the earth, plants, and trees with seed so that plants would continue to grow and provide food. He made the sun, the moon, and the stars to give us light for both the day and night. “Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:20-22). Next God created the cattle and the animals that creep upon the earth. And then, after everything was prepared and ready, God made man. (See Genesis 1)

*Sand crabs (God created a world of wonder and awe.)

I love to watch sand crabs, particularly ghost crabs, scurry across the beach and peek up out of their holes as they busily work. It surprised me to discover that there are at least 28 species in the ghost crab genus Ocypode. In addition, this seemingly insignificant little creature is a master of camouflage, locomotion, and burrowing. Being nocturnal, they are mostly seen at night, but this past week I was entertained by a couple of the creatures just a short distance from my beach chair in the bright sunlight. It tickled me to watch them run using all four pairs of their walking legs, but as their speed increased, they would raise up one or two pairs and at times run, using only two pairs of legs. I also enjoyed watching them fling sand out of their hole as they worked on their elaborate burrow to which they would retreat whenever they felt threatened. As I watched the crabs work, I couldn’t help but think of the wonder of God’s creation. How intricately and perfectly God made even this tiny creature. “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions – this great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great” (Psalm 104:24-25).

*Sand (I am on God’s mind. His thoughts toward me are more numerous than the sand.)

One of the things I enjoy the most on a beach vacation is taking walks along the seashore. I love to feel either the warmth or coolness of the sand against my bare feet. I also like to walk along the water’s edge and feel the wet sand squish up between my toes. Sometimes, on a particularly breezy day, the wind can pick up countless grains of sand and whip them into a storm of stinging, prickly needles. One year on vacation I watched as a tropical storm approached the beach. The strong winds whipped the sand into a spinning frenzy as they blew across the shore. But whatever the weather, there is always sand on the beach – and in my shoes – and in the house – and in the car – and sometimes, even in my mouth! Sand is everywhere! And the grains of sand are truly too numerous to count. Yet the psalmist tells us that God’s thoughts toward us are more numerous than the sand! That overwhelms me to think that God thinks that much about me. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand” (Psalm 139:17-18a).

*Shore birds (God cares for His creation and He cares for me.)

Another of my favorite pastimes at the beach is watching the many shore birds – sanderlings, terns, sea gulls, herons. Some of the tiny sanderlings and terns run constantly along the shore searching for their food, their tiny matchstick-thin legs seemingly no match for the strong shore breezes and relentless surf. At the same time, larger gulls and herons are sure to be spotted along any fishing pier or accompanying a charter fishing boat. As many and as varied as they are, I am reminded that God takes care of the birds – and that He will take care of me, too. Jesus Himself taught: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

*Seashells (Each of us are special treasures to God.)

Although I have collected quite an assortment of seashells over the years, I just cannot seem to leave the beach without picking up a few more treasures. I’ll eagerly scan the sand for that special shell that I just can’t leave without. Or perhaps it’s that weird one that I really can’t quite figure out. And then sometimes, it is that perfect unbroken shell or special find like a starfish or sand dollar. This year I can home with a bag full of crushed seashells that I found on large stretches of the beach. (Always the preschool Sunday School teacher, I knew we could use those in making collages.) These shells had been completely crushed by the pounding waves, yet they, too, held beauty. In much the same way, all believers in Jesus are His special treasures. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  Just like the seashells on the beach, we come in all shapes and all sizes. Some of us stand out in our beauty and excellence. Others of us bear the marks of difficulties and a life of hard knocks. Some of us are completely crushed and broken, but in God’s eyes we are all His perfect treasures. Just as those crushed seashells can still reflect beauty, so, too, can we when we surrender everything we are to Him and allow Him to reveal Himself in us.

*Sounds of the ocean (God is strong and mighty and God is in control.)

I love to close my eyes while sitting on the beach and just listen to the waves breaking on the shore. Sometimes it is a soft, splashing sound. At other times it can be loud and crashing. Even in the beach house where we were staying, across the street from the beach, we could hear the strong sounds of the surf. While I love to hear the surf and pounding waves, it can also be frightening, especially during a storm when the sea is rough and raging. A few years ago when we were at the beach during a tropical storm, I can remember looking at the angry waves and feeling powerless against their might and strength. But God’s Word reminds us that the same God who created all, also controls all. Just as Jesus calmed the storm that raged on the Sea of Galilee (see Mark 4:35-41), He can calm our storms today. The psalmist declared: “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea” (Psalm 93:4).

*Sunsets (Begin and end the day with God; rejoice in His faithfulness.)

I always enjoy ending a day at the beach with a walk on the shore, hopefully in time to see the last bit of sunlight fade in the distance. On beaches where the sun actually sets out over the ocean, you can almost hear the hush as people gather to watch the last sinking rays disappear into the water. Sunsets encourage me to grow reflective as I think about one day ending and a new day coming. I think about God’s faithfulness and care throughout the day ending. Paul warned the Ephesians “do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (see Ephesians 4:26). As the sun fades each day, we, too, should let go of any anger, bitterness, and confess all our sins to our Heavenly Father. Likewise, we should offer thanks for His blessings and His faithfulness to us. Closing the day with the Father prepares us to face the new day with renewed joy and hope. As the psalmist declared: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night” (Psalm 92:1-2).

My beach vacation reminded me much about God, His provision and care, and His concern for each of His children. Like the psalmist, I can say: “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:8-9). So, even during those times when I’m running helter-skelter like that little ghost crab, or perhaps when I am broken and crushed like my bag of seashells, or even when the storm is raging and the sand is swirling, I can know that God is in control and I can trust in His faithfulness!

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Responses

  1. Kathy,
    Thank you for putting into words the way I feel about the beach. It always makes me feel closer to God and gives me that wonderful feeling of peace that can only come from Him.
    Blessings, Sheila

    • Thanks, Sheila. I feel that way about my mountains, too, but I just don’t get to enjoy the beach as often! Glad you enjoyed reading the devotion.


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