This weekend, my family and I are soaking up the sun in Galveston, Texas to celebrate my sister’s high school graduation. I’m not sure exactly when, but at some point between our family vacations to Rosemary Beach in Florida when I was younger and Playa del Carmen in Mexico for my mom’s 50th birthday last Christmas break, I deemed the beach my ultimate favorite spot. My happy place. The peaceful and soothing sound of the crashing waves, the feeling of the warm and soft grains of sand crinkling in between your toes, sun-kissed skin and wind blown hair from laying out on the beach and playing in the ocean, ice cold Coca-Cola’s and melting popsicles as an escape from the intense heat. I am smiling just thinking about it. I absolutely love the beach. My absolute favorite thing about the beach though is the way I am reminded of God so beautifully and prominently.
The ocean itself has always painted a picture of the God’s love to me. You can’t see the bottom of the ocean or the land on the other side from the shore. You can’t see how far and wide the body of water extends either, as hard as you try. Just as in Ephesians 3:18, when Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” the ocean is a beautiful and visible image of the unfathomable love of Jesus. Additionally, the sand reminds me of God’s thoughts about me. I am always utterly blown away by the sand and how many grains there are. Think about the last time you went to the beach. Making a sand castle, burying your little brother in the sand to the point where his entire body is covered (why this is fun for him, I’ll never understand), or washing off your sandy feet in the hose after a long day. SO MUCH SAND. It seems never ending to me sometimes. And then what gets me every time is Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.” One of my favorite things about this verse is the use of exclamations from David, almost like the news is too good for him not to scream and shout at the top of his lungs. I imagine him sprinting down the shore of the beach right where the tides hit the sand, running and jumping for joy, exclaiming, “HE THINKS ABOUT ME MORE THAN THE GRAINS OF SAND! HE HAS CHOSEN ME AND I AM LOVED! OH, HAPPY DAY!” Anyone else picture that when they read that psalms? Or is it just me?
And then, there are sunsets. Breathtakingly beautiful and simply stunning every single time. I am a sunset fanatic no matter where I am- the mountains, Haiti, and especially my favorite little corner of the world in College Station. They are always amazing to me. However, there is just something special about sunsets at the beach. Looking over the horizon, at a vibrantly orange and yellow, subtly pink and purple, hazy sunset peeking above the mystical blue water as if the Lord is saying, “Hey, beautiful child, I painted this for you tonight because I love you more than you will ever know.” Sunsets are a sweet blessing from the Lord, a sneak peek at what is to come in eternity. A phenomenal display in the sky of “the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1).” And all of this changed for me one night while in Mexico with my family.
He doesn’t know this, but something that one of my younger brothers, Josh, said to me in the midst of my depression has stuck with me ever since. One night in Mexico, I was on the floor leaning up against a wall at our resort, and my sweet brother knew I was feeling down. The phrase that has stuck with me to this day occurred in the middle of a pep talk of encouragement given by Josh that night. He was telling me that life was too good to be so upset about, that I was missing out on all of the beauty taking place right in front of my eyes. Through boyish excitement and childlike faith, my 15 year old brother looked at me with his big brown eyes full of hope and said to me these words with great confidence, “Meredith, I feel like when you see a sunset, all you see is a sunset. When I see a sunset, I see God’s beautiful creation- it is so beautiful and so much more than a sunset. But I feel like all you see is a sunset.” I remember my heart sinking. I remember wanting to cry my eyes out right then and there. But because of the numbness I felt deep from within, I kept it to myself. I said nothing and simply nodded. But somewhere inside of me, I felt so proud. Proud to call this little (but not, he is about 6 feet tall) stud of a human my brother.
He doesn’t know this, but what he said truly hit me hard that night. And it hits me every single time I see the sun setting to rest for the night and come back the next morning for a new day to begin. It is not just a sunset, it is so much more.
The little blessings we receive day to day are gifts from God. A hug from a friend, an iced lavender latte, reading a really good book, holding a newborn baby, laughing until you cry, a sunset…these are gifts to be treasured. And yet they are more than what they merely seem to be, because they were given to us from our Creator who knew these gifts would bring us such simple joy (James 1:17). That is the God we serve. Loving and thoughtful and looking out for His beloved children (Psalm 103:8).
Romans 1:20 ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Next time you watch the sunset, remember this, it is so much more than what the eye can see.