Sitting at the beach, there's a wheel chair. Empty. Its occupant lies on the beach, sunning. I drape my towel over my chair and settle in with my book.
One eye on my boogie boarding child, I wonder at the woman’s story. Was it an accident? MS? Was she born that way? And she's here, engaged in life with her family. I admire her. I think that takes courage.
She must want to play in the waves. Wrapping an arm under one leg she bends it, positioning it to stand. She repeats the process with the other. Stretching her arms to her husband, he heaves her up. I turn my head, so as not to stare.
I am in awe, though. Inspired.
Next thing I know, she's standing in the surf. The shifting sand and breaking waves throw her off balance. She clings to her husband, but balance eludes. She lands face first in the sand.
My breath catches. I'm anxious for her! Not her, though. She's laughing, drawing a sharp breath and releasing squeals of delight as the cold water laps against her.
Her husband helps her up again. They embrace, two one as he attempts to steady her. The sand is too unstable, though. She resolves to enter the surf on hands and knees. Husband stands in deeper water. Beyond the breaking waves. Safe. He calls her. Coaches her. Encourages her. Stretches her, I think.
I'm nervous for her. How do you swim without the use of your legs? Will he let her drown? Let her have a close call or look foolish trying? My pride imposed on her moment. But she proceeds, face first into the surf. One wave at a time. One carries her, the next places her further up on the sand. I look away.
Next glance, she made it into deeper water. She's doing it! On her own. Husband near, but not doing it for her. Family around, but not doting. Just letting her be normal, a mom playing in the water like everyone else.
What beautiful love. Much like our Heavenly Father has for us. His Spirit there, coaching and encouraging. Pushing us to go beyond our comfort zone. Stretching us, but always within reach to rescue when necessary. He is our anchor in shifting sands. He holds us steady when the waves threaten to wash us away. He stands in the deeper waters calling us to a deeper place with him. Waiting for us to trust enough to come.
Will we go, face first if we have to? Waves in our face, salt water up our nose, but eyes on Him because He has what we want? Freedom. Healing. Peace. Joy. Satisfaction. Will we trust Him and go to Him, crippled on our hands and knees if we must? Are we willing to look foolish to have Him?
As the Lord loves me this way, I pray I will love like this husband. Thick and thin. Sickness and health. Allowing others to stumble to the Lord and find themselves in Him. Sometimes the one to be the anchor. Other times the one holding on for dear life. Giving and receiving, like the Lord desires of us.
This couple has no idea how the Lord used them to encourage me that first sunny morning, six days into our trip. It brought a quick end to the private pity party I was having with the Lord over persistent rain and an ill-timed hormonal uprising that dampened expectations of a perfect tropical vacation. Watching this woman take on the ocean, husband by her side, kids all around her, put things in perspective.
Thank you, Lord, for perspective, as we become more wholly Yours today.