Myrtle Beach Reflections ~ Part 1
The beach is probably my most favorite place to be. (Granted, I haven’t done a lot of traveling, but I’m pretty sure that if I’m ever able to visit other parts of the world, I would still choose a beach somewhere as a my destination of choice.) Normally I’m a slow riser in the morning, and like to hit the snooze button at least a couple of times, but when I’m at the ocean, I have a completely different attitude. I like to set my alarm clock so I’ll be sure to get up just before dawn and slip out to the sand to enjoy watching the sun push its way above the horizon. I love feeling the warmth from the sun’s rays slowly replace the cool morning breeze on my face.
Usually I don’t see a lot of people out that early, but there are some exercisers who are jogging or biking down the beach, dog walkers out for a morning stroll, and invariably, a few treasure hunters sweeping the low tide sand in search of lost trinkets. But I don’t usually have many people join me to enjoy the wonder of the creation and silently celebrate the beauty of the Creator. Maybe that’s because the other early-risers are locals and have just grown accustomed to the awe-inspiring scene. Maybe some of them have a routine to keep and there’s just not enough time to pause for every sunrise. Maybe the discovery of hidden fortunes seems more spectacular than the dawning of a new day.
Or maybe it’s that mankind, in general, has lost its sense of mystery.
Every day, the news alerts us to amazing discoveries that were the stuff of futuristic science-fiction only a decade ago. I recently read about cutting-edge brain implants that promise to help people recover and maintain long-term memories, 3-D laser printing that can replicate engine parts, and practical green technology which offers viable alternative energy from renewable sources. There’s always a new TV commercial that champions a wonder drug which is ‘sure’ to alleviate any number of medical issues, and today, you can’t even buy a cell phone that isn’t outdated in 5 months! We’ve grown so accustomed to “new,” “better” and “more magnificent” that we are perpetually unimpressed. Revolutionary ideas with the potential to radically alter the course of humanity just make us turn our heads and say “meh.”
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
You know there really are a lot of ingenious achievements in our world which are worthy of notice, however none can compete with the magnificence of God Himself. But when we’re too caught up in the things of our own existence, we can easily miss the truly glorious declaration of God’s beauty demonstrated every day in a simple sunrise or overlook the opportunity to marvel at His vastness written on the fabric of a night sky. God makes His splendor and power evident all around us, but gadgets and shiny baubles in our hands distract our ability to appreciate Him. David’s words in Psalm 19 remind us that the handiwork of the Lord decorates the created world, but we will miss Him if we don’t pay attention to that which is truly glorious.
So let me just list a few quick thoughts that might help you recapture a sense of wonder of the presence of God –
Pay Attention – Have you ever bought a new ring or watch? The first couple of days you start wearing it, you’re intently aware of its presence. But then slowly, you get used to it until finally you’re not even conscious that you have it on anymore. You know, that can happen in your relationship with the Lord too. A sermon, conference or new insight grabs your attention and you become freshly sensitive to God’s activity. But in a few days or weeks, your focus is diverted by other things. God hasn’t lessened His activity in your life; you just don’t notice Him anymore. That’s why you have to pay attention, and learn to alter your perception so you can see where He’s already working in your life. Remember God is great at revealing Himself just about anywhere. A storm, a patch of wildflowers, even a bad day at the office can be an opportunity to meet with the Father. But cultivating sensitivity to identify Him in those every day kind of things doesn’t happen automatically. It takes time and effort and practice. You have to make a point to reflect on each day, asking God to show you His presence in fantastic and mundane things.
Meditate – God’s voice isn’t the only one speaking in the world today. So you have to be on guard for messages that seem like Him, but really aren’t. The only real way to know if what you hear is really from the Lord is through scripture. That means that if you want to hear God’s voice and appreciate His work in your life, you need to do some homework. I’m not advocating enrolling in a formal Bible study or even stepping up a structured reading plan, (though there’s nothing wrong with either of those ideas) What I am encouraging is mediation. That is, reading the scripture regularly, with the goal of absorbing its truths. Instead of thinking about reading the Bible as something you “should” or “must” do. Think about it as an invitation to join a conversation with God… a two-way dialogue and not a one-way lecture. That kind of interaction develops when you learn to pause, and think about what you’re reading, what He’s saying, and how it applies to you.
Savor – Frequently people say how much better things are today than even a few years ago, but even as valuable as all the improvements in technology and “time saving” devices are, do you ever wonder…. Exactly where is the actual time that we’ve supposedly saved? Our lives are so busy that we have little time to savor moments when God chooses to reveal Himself. Imagine taking the time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and a piece of your favorite cake. You eat it slowly, and appreciate every bite. You walk away a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. Now imagine eating the same cake after a huge Christmas meal. You’re so stuffed and uncomfortable that even a delicious dessert doesn’t taste good. Cramming our lives with too many activities is like eating cake on and overfilled stomach. The joy and the fulfillment are gone because we don’t have time to let them satisfy us. We need to slow down… put some space in our lives so that we can enjoy and find satisfaction in the Lord.
Long for More – God planted in us a desire for something more than what this world can provide. Even though we may have a lot of things that entertain us, activities, relationships or fancy contraptions can’t fill an gnawing emptiness on the inside. God allows that ache to manifest itself within us in order to drive us to Him! Jesus is the only thing… the only Person.. who can can satisfy an empty soul. The offer of the Gospel is LIFE – true fulfillment. Once you experience what He has to offer, you’ll rediscover a holy awe that can never be replaced by the charms of this world.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.