Every summer, our family spends an extended weekend in the south coast of Washington, in the beautiful, quaint town of Grayland. Weather forecasts always promise decent August temperatures, but we do remind ourselves they call the town “the land of gray” for a reason.
We just enjoyed our SEVENTH family reunion in Grayland, enjoying coffee, good conversation, silly kids, and the beautiful landscape. Without the usual wind, our time outside proved quite pleasant.
Thursday night we headed to the beach, down the quarter acre path, to enjoy the sunset and let the kids run around on the sand before settling down for the first bedtime in the beach house.
We arrived at the water just past sunset, the sky a beautiful shade of gray. Waves crashed as kids sprinted around and dug their fingers into the warm, fine sand.
Emily and Odi noticed there was a slight sand bar reaching out into the water, so I encouraged them to head onto it with the little ones. At that point, waves were just skimming it, allowing the kids to only wade ankle deep. It was a beautiful scene of memories and happiness. But very quickly, the scene changed, and the sun set on the day much quicker than expected.
Just a few minutes earlier, I commented to my father-in-law Glenn that it was probably time to call the kids in. The tide was obviously on its way up, and the level of the water in which they played was rising. We called multiple times for the kids to come in, but over the crash of waves, they couldn’t hear us. I called out for Odi to stay close to Ana, but I was pretty sure she couldn’t hear me, and I began anxiously yelling and calling out louder.
A sudden swell of tide left the kids in knee-deep water, which sent them sprinting toward us in a giggling frenzy. The light from the sunset dimmed even more, leaving people and details more difficult to tell apart.
As the kids sprinted toward us, another large wave hit, swallowing Milo and Ana, the two who can’t quite swim yet. Odi and Emily started to run off, away from the submerged children, to escape the large waves. They were unaware their cousins had been swallowed by the sea. At that moment, the inconsequential waves might as well have been a massive tsunami, engulfing everything in sight.
Watching from the shoreline, I felt helpless. I was within inches of throwing my camera to Glenn, and running into the water to save my daughter and nephew. If it had been daytime, it would have been no problem. I’m sure we would have all treated it as a silly splashing and dunking little incident. But all that went through my mind at the time was, “If they go under, and we don’t find them, they’re in trouble.”
I called to the girls to grab them, and they sprinted back in a swift act of heroism and snatched both kids up out of the water. Milo the tough guy managed to march out of the water in survival mode; but Ana was obviously shaken by the incident. As she bawled and reached for my arms, I reminded her that Odi and Emily had been right there to save her.
Back on the beach I stripped Ana’s wet shirts off her shivering body and wrapped my rain jacket around her. Aaron held her in his arms to warm her up on the walk home.
As I tucked Ana into bed and settled in for the night, my thoughts shifted. All I could think about was how deeply we wade into danger in life, and how loud God must be yelling at us to come closer to the shoreline.
We wade so close to danger (both emotionally and physically), and destruction suddenly becomes closer than we realize. As the force of the destruction becomes stronger and mightier, we fall. Waves of despair, pain, regret, and confusion, pummel us. They yank us away from the healthy, life giving sources we so desperately need. Like Milo and Ana, we are weak, and too small to pull ourselves up out of the struggle.
Or maybe we have times where we are like Odi and Emily, and God is calling to us, yelling at us, to save the weak. To feed the hungry. To give warmth to the homeless. To give clothes to the needy. To love those who are overcome with unavoidable despair, and who have no way out but to be grabbed by the hand and pulled by one arm.
Regardless of our role, God is calling, screaming over the crashing waves. We often can’t hear him over the busyness and noise around us, which means we must stay alert and honed in on His voice. It is so easy to sprint and wade and leap through the waves of life and forget there are consequences for wading in too deep. We must watch ourselves, but also care for those around us who are in too deep. We must listen for God’s wise, sometimes-patient, sometimes-urgent voice. We must listen and respond when He calls.
We need to ask ourselves this question… are we wading in too deep to hear the voice of wisdom?