I LOVE the beach and I particularly love beaches that are kissed by the Atlantic Ocean. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that I would one day have the pleasure of living just 10 minutes from the shore… but as we follow God’s plan, truly nothing is impossible.
I’m not, however, a huge fan of going to the beach alone and lesser still, when it’s chilly and rainy. But since I would be driving Denny to the airport today, and it’s just down the road from Faro Island Beach, I decided I’d make this the first intentional step outside of my normal routine in My 30-day Challenge .
Unusually enough for this time of year, it’s been raining every day – often torrentially – for over a week now. I left the house with an umbrella and a towel, looking forward to a chilly and possibly damp stroll on the beach… and whatever else might await me. The sun made its first waning appearance through the clouds as we headed down the highway and I encouraged myself with the thought that this might not be so bad after all.
Yet as soon as I left Denny at Departures, the drops began to fall. What initially seemed like a shower, quickly became a downpour as I crossed the bridge onto Faro Island.
There was a hint of blue sky off to the east, so I was hopeful that conditions would improve, as weather patterns move in and out pretty quickly here along the shoreline.
I parked the car adjacent to the beach in the nearly empty lot (definitely a perk coming to the beach in this kind of weather!) and waited a moment. Wow. I was going to get drenched. And then I remembered my umbrella, which was safely stored in the trunk. Great.
Not one to easily be deterred, I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up both legs of my jeans and prepared to make the dash for the trunk. And that’s when the heavens opened and the deafening rhythm of extra-large drops on the roof of the car filled my ears. “OK, here we go!” I cheered myself on.
As I leapt from the driver’s seat out into the flood, the surfer in the nearby Frontera gave me a curious look. I popped open the trunk, grabbed my umbrella and began walking towards the beach, trying to appear nonchalant. The wind picked up and I held the umbrella in front of me like a shield, in a feeble attempt to dodge the awaiting deluge. My jeans were quickly soaked, my damp hair was in my mouth and I quietly wondered, “WHY am I doing this?!” Still I continued onward, up to the beach to begin my walk. The sand was colder than I had anticipated and it only increased the chill my drenched clothing had already caused.
I began to reflect on life and how it is so often just like this. We make a choice, a decision, a commitment, and we imagine that it will require some determination on our part. We even try to picture how difficult it might be and then, from the comfort and safety of our “wise” position of foresight, we mentally list all the clever solutions we will have to brave the rough spots.
Then we begin the journey: the clouds roll in, the wind picks up, the deluge hits.
And our greatest temptation is to just stay in the car, put it in reverse and head home.
It’s warm and dry there. It’s safe and predictable.
Something really beautiful happened today, though. When I stepped out into the wailing wind and rain, feeling cold and wet and rather foolish, I said NO to more of the same. I said no to my normal routine, to allowing circumstances to wash over me like a flood and carry me away in their current. I felt like God was saying to me, “Maureen, this is what The Challenge is all about. It’s making one small, seemingly insignificant choice at a time to trust me and to live differently. It’s about allowing yourself to be transformed.” So as I walked down that beach, soaking wet, I said YES. I’m willing to go for it. I’m determined to fight! I want to be more like you, Jesus. Like clay in your capable hands.
After just a few more minutes of enduring the pounding rain, suddenly, inexplicably, the dark cloud cover began to open up. Bright sunshine poured down on me.
And I felt warmth rather than chill. Joy instead of misery.
The beach looked so broad and beautiful! The surf was wild, lit up by the sun’s rays and spewing foam in the wind. I had never seen such amazing cloud formations as those that hovered overhead.
But I had to brave the pouring rain and gusty wind, the soggy clothing, damp hair and discomfort in order to see that, to savor it. I had to step out of the car when it seemed like the craziest thing to do, because before everything got ugly, I had decided that I would.
How many times, when faced with those conditions, have I turned around and gone home, thinking, “There’ll be another day”? Well… today was that day. And it was glorious! Welcome 30-day Challenge! I’m all in.
Now may the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace
as you believe in Him
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.