this is life 23.0

i never used to think of myself as a beach girl. i always loved the mountains, the scent of the trees, the cool shadow of dark forest, the thinness of mountain air.  i didn’t quite get the point of the beach. ‘oh, look, it’s the same ocean we always see when we come. and look, there’s sand, just like there was last time. and hey, guess what? it smells like dead sea lion because there’s a carcass that washed up on the beach.’

but over the past few months, that perspective has changed. i still love and long for mountains. but the ocean has this draw for me that it never did before. something about its infinitude, the scent of the wind. the vastness of the sky. the stretches of sand and rock.

everything seems so clear there, my heart, my mind…my perspective. 

maybe that is what pulls my heart there: the perspective. several sundays ago, i ignored the perpetual stacks of homework for the afternoon and went with my family out to goat rock state park for my sister’s birthday. as much as i love to run in the sand, that day i was too worn out to do more than go for a long ramble down the beach with my sister. but the best part of the day was stretching out in the sand, propping my chin on my arms, and just gazing. at nothing. at everything. thinking of nothing and thinking of everything. just being.

i was eye-level with the sand curving in front of me: endless numbers of tiny, wave-scarred rocks, each broken and blunted and beautiful in the unique color and shape given to it by the relentless waves. if i lifted my eyes, ever so slightly, i could see the waves bounding up the beach, curling over the sand, shattering into millions of liquid shards on the rocks. and if i lifted them further, the sky–silver, gold, light, music. it was then that i decided that i wanted to live there.

not at the beach itself, but at that place of perspective.

because life hurts sometimes.  the kind of hurt that there are no words for.  the kind that takes you by surprise, like a shove in the back. the kind that pulls tears from eyes that were laughing a moment before. the kind of pain that comes of being broken and blunted by the relentless love of God, a love too entirely perfect to leave one single wave unwashed if that wave is what it takes to make me like His Son.

‘i thought it was full
but it was halfway to the top
love is an ocean trying to fill this tiny cup
under bright sun and stars
we crash into the sand
and all that i knew
i’m having to learn again…’

 sandra mcckracken.halfway

it is so easy for me to concentrate on the details of life. the things that, from an eternal perspective, are as insignificant as a grain of sand. my focus becomes fixed on the sand in front of my eyes, on memorials of pain and hurt and brokenness. and i forget to lift my eyes that short distance to see the ocean of sovereign, divine love that provides that pain. because God does not delight in seeing His children suffer, but He does delight in using circumstances–even difficult, painful circumstances–to refine us, to carve us into a more perfect image of the Savior who bought us. that is the love that nailed Him to the cross and paid the debt of all sin that i carried. that is the love that assures me that what i experience is not His wrath but His tender and relentless hand. that is the love that, for some reason, despite its proof, is so easy for me not to see.

‘well, Your love is over
it’s underneath
it’s inside
it’s in between…
I’ll never forsake you
My love never ends
it never ends…’

tenth avenue north.times

and if i could just raise my eyes just a little bit, i might see the vastness of God’s glory above it all. the glory that He can wring out of any circumstances, out of any hurt or confusion or chaos. out of missing people so badly that it actually physically hurts. out of the tears that come to my eyes when i’m driving alone in the car. out of the re-emergence of health problems i thought were taken care of. out of anything, He can and does orchestrate it to my ultimate good, and His ultimate glory.

so that i want, more than anything, to live here in the shelter of this ocean. all of this was so far from my mind when i first titled this blog, but now more than ever it seems appropriate: scribbling in the sand. this is what i want. this is life. scribbling about the glories of God, the ocean of His love, in the details of life. all of them. the broken. the blunted. because it is only when we view them in the context of the ocean and sky that those grains of sand appear most beautiful.

so this is what i want. to live constantly and joyfully in sight of the love and the glory of God. to look at each grain of sand in search of the beauty wrought in it by the waves. and to use my life as a reflection of that love and glory and beauty. to write the glories of the ocean and sky in the sand.

‘so i lay down
what i cannot hold in my hands
every sorrow and hope
spinning out of control
that we might find sweet resolution
that comes of letting go.
we will find Shelter here.’

sandra mccracken.shelter

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3 thoughts on “this is life 23.0

  1. Carreen, this is a beautiful post. It is easy for me to focus my gaze on the details of the daily and forget to raise my head and look at the eternal. Thank you for sharing.

    As I was reading your post, I was reminded by this passage: “She worked her toes into the sand, feeling the tiny delicious pain of the friction of tiny chips of silicon against the tender flesh between her toes. That’s life. It hurts, it’s dirty, and it feels very, very good.”

    • It’s from “Children of the Mind” by Orson Scott Card. It’s part of a science fiction series that my dad and I enjoy. And I actually haven’t read this book yet. I just saw this phrase when my dad was reading one day and made note of it. ;)

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