My first work trip of the year was to Puerto Rico. I know. Feel free to insert all of the things you need to about the cold, dislike of me, etc. I love my job, especially when I’m in the Caribbean in January.
The second day I was in Puerto Rico the sea got a little angry. The beach went from being a nice place to relax and wade to being the last place you wanted to set out a towel or go in beyond your toes. Being an ocean girl from way back, I recognized the signs right away and I was doing all of my ocean looking from the safety of a deck. Not so the tourists. I watched honeymooners, families, and older couples head to the beach. They thoroughly staked their claim. Towels were laid out, sunscreen was applied, and relaxation commenced. Until the sea did exactly what the sea does. Sneaker waves drenched sunbathers. Towels were carried off, phones were submerged, sunscreen floated out to sea, and books were ruined.
Sopping wet beach goers dripped their way back to the hotel and I watched for the next sneaker wave to hit the newest batch of vacationers. And those waves kept coming. Older couples walking on the beach found themselves up to their hips in water. Small dogs being walked were completely submerged. People who were wading found themselves fighting to stay afloat. The sea kept claiming sunglasses, trash, towels, hats, and more.
Every time I’m near the ocean I’m reminded of the powerful Creator I serve. I can’t help but see him in every wave. One of my favorite things about the ocean is it’s unpredictability. It can’t and won’t be tamed. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your hotel room, the sea is going to do what the sea is going to do. It’s consistently changing while staying the same.
As I watched those vacationeers set up for a day at the beach only to have their plans changed by the ocean I couldn’t help but see myself in them. I love to have things planned out. I like to know where I’m going, what I’m doing, and who’s going to be there. Much like the beach goers I have everything planned for a good day, week, or year. And no matter how many times it happens, like a shocking wave of water, I’m surprised when things don’t go my way.
I can’t control what happens but I can control my response to it. I used to become angry and immobile when my plans were changed, now I’m learning to graciously adjust and enjoy the journey. My favorite vacationers to watch were the ones who were drenched and started laughing. Instead of running for cover or being angry they laughed and embraced the unexpected. They splashed each other, they ran after their floating items, and they bent over laughing in the midst of it.
A new year is here my friends, and like it or not, this year is not going to go the way you have planned. We’re already 5% of the way through and my guess is you’ve already had a curve ball or two come your way. Remind yourself of a few things.
- God is God and you are not. In Isaiah 55 it says that his thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. He’s in control and his way for you will not be what you expected.
- We serve a beautifully unpredictable God. We will never fully understand him. We will never control him, so stop trying to. That’s a beautiful thing. If we could figure God out we wouldn’t need to depend on him.
- Laugh. Take a deep breath. Unclench. Chill. If you believe #1 and #2 to be true then relax. God has you, your situation, the people you love, and the things you haven’t even though of yet. Breathe. Choose joy.
- Rest in truth. It’s much easier to embrace the unexpected when you know truth. Seep yourself in God’s word to remind yourself of his character. Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine. And we know from Jeremiah 29:11 that his plans are for our good. The character of the God we serve is rock solid. And that rock solid God is intimately involved in your life. That’s truth to rest in.
May we grow in grace together in this new year. May we come to know Jesus more, may we laugh more often, and may we approach the unexpected with joy instead of frustration.
And also, if you’re at the beach and there is a Red Flag warning, stay alert. Or find a safe place to people watch ;).