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Lessons from Nature: Waves

I am in Bali Indonesia for discipleship training and I am staying across from the beach. I like to sit on the beach and have quiet time with Jesus. I just started my second weeks of lectures. The topic this week is about hearing the voice of God. This is an exciting topic for me and I look forward to what each day will bring. After hearing the message this morning I decided to go down to the beach and just be silent before God and see if He had anything to tell me. As I watched each wave roll on to the shore I started to think of similarities between the waves and how God works in our lives. These lessons are always exciting to me and I want to share them with others who also may benefit from them.

The first thought is about how waves roll in and out in a repetitious cycle. There is a constant motion to the sea, the water is never standing still. I think our lives are a little like this, we have times when God’s glory and grace flows over us and we are made aware of his presence, but then it seems to recede and we don’t feel His presence even though be faith we know He is with us always. In these times we can be encouraged that when the last wave recedes there is always another one behind it. That is the next lesson; waves are perpetual, never ending. God is eternal and He is always faithful to us. Jesus will never give up on us even when we might give up on Him. Just as one wave after another rolls on to the sandy beach, Jesus’ love and mercy rolls over us and it will never cease. His call is constant and His presence in our lives never ending.

Today the waves were gentle and slowly rolled upon the shore, but in days past the waves have been violent and crashed upon the beach. As I observed the waves today gently rolling in, I thought about how God sometimes works in gentle and almost subtle ways. He is patient and slowly refines us in a calm way. However, I think there are also times when He needs to shake us up, He needs to break us, He needs to turn us upside down. That is not to say he is violent and reckless with us, He knows what we need and he does so with love and great care as to not damage us. Whether we’re in the gentle waves or the violent ones we are always in His hands. The second thought I have about this is that at times God’s presence crashes over us like a large wave. There is no denying that we had an encounter with the Father. However, there are also times when the wave of glory gently washes over us. It can sometimes feel as if He isn’t there at all, but if we stand still and listen, we can hear His still small voice.

We all know the power that flowing water has. It carves paths through forests, plains, prairies, and even mountains. I have been to the shores of the great Lake Superior in northern Minnesota where the waves have polished stones. In the same way the waves here in Bali Indonesia have smoothed out the sandy beach. Everything our Father does is to polish us, smooth out our rough edges, and refine us in order to bring us closer to the image of His Son.

…we all know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29 ESV

Before the weekend the beach used to be flat, but today part of the beach had been eroded away. Just like the power of water, the God of heaven has the power to erode away our strongholds, those things that don’t belong in our lives. In our ability we don’t have the strength, but when surrendered to the waves of God’s love and power we will see the rough areas of our lives smoothed and polished.

After processing these thoughts I decided to walk down to the water and take some photos and I learned even more lessons from getting a closer look. The first observation was how each wave slightly changed the sand. The changes were very subtle, but when I looked closely I noticed how the patterns in the sand changed. As each wave receded, I saw a slightly different landscape. Sometimes there were ridges and valleys in the sand, sometimes there were patterns of lighter and darker colored sand. At a glance everything looked the same, but when looking for the changes it was obvious. This is not much different to how God works in our lives. Subtly with each wave that comes and goes, we are changed little by little. From the outside it may seem like we’re not changing at all, but when we look for the changes in our lives over the period of a year they become more apparent.

Then I walked deeper into the waves and looked even closer and saw something truly amazing. As the waves came in and pulled back taking some of the sand with them, I saw hundreds of tiny clams. When the water had receded the clams would dig into the sand and bury themselves. If it wasn’t for the waves I never would have seen them. This leads me to probably the most exciting lesson yet. As each wave revealed the clams to me, each wave from God will reveal new things to us. When we allow the waves of glory of our Father wash over us we will see new things about Him and about us. Each wave might reveal something new, sometimes it may be large things while other times it might be a few small things. This process is as endless as the waves. Jesus always has new things we wants to reveal to us. I once heard that the reason the angels in heaven cry “Holy, Holy, Holy” on a continual basis is because each time they see a new side of God and are amazed. I will take this even deeper. Just as the little clams are living organisms hidden under the sand, Jesus works in our lives to reveal things that have always been there but were hidden. These things are full of life and are buried inside us. It takes the waves of Jesus to uncover the hidden things in our lives to reveal to us who we really are, our character, our identity, and our purpose.

I pray that through sharing these thoughts you were blessed and received something that will take you into a deeper relationship with our loving Father. He desires for each one of us to have a better understanding of ourselves and of who He is. Let the waves of His glory and grace wash over you and bring new life to your spirit and surrender to His changing power that may hurt at times, but will purify you and bring you to a higher place. To Christ alone be all the glory, honor and power, forever. Amen