A few weeks ago I was down at the beach on my ‘day-away-to-pray.’ This is a day I take about every month or more where I spend a good chunk of a day in the back of my SUV praying, writing out my discussions with God, time in silence listening to God (now God has never spoken to me audibly, but He does put thoughts in my head and though I do test them against the Bible, I do listen), and I take time reading and thinking about the truths, teaching and revelations of the Bible. It is an amazing and incredible time where I come away encouraged, challenged, convicted, and fired up to get on with God’s call on my life. My practice is that I head down to the beach very early in the morning and enjoy God’s creation; the waves crashing on the shore, the smell of the ocean in the air, the warm sun as it rises to push back the brisk morning, and the occasional coastal creature gathering its breakfast that God has made available to them. As I take all this in I am escorted into a wonderful time of interacting with our amazing Heavenly Father and the insights gained are truly inspiring. Well, on this particular occasion, out of the many insights I gained that day, one impactful insight came through an unlikely sort. This compelling insight was not so much from a time deep into the Scriptures, nor was it from wrestling with an intense thought or issue, nor did it come in those quiet moments where God speaks to the inner depths of the soul. No, this came through more of an interruption. Let me explain… When I take these times I try to find the most secluded parking location at the beach, free from the distraction of those around me, yet close enough where I can take in the beauty of God’s creation of the beach and the waves. Sure there are the joggers, walkers, and cyclists that pass by and yet those provide a fun break to my thoughts and even an occasional comical relief, like the time when this guy in full doctor scrubs road by on his bike giving out medical orders over the phone and asking for symptoms. Was he handling an emergency? Was he on his way into the office or hospital? Was he even a real doctor? Anyway, I try to be as sequestered as much possible and was for the most part since I was the only car in my section of the parking lot. Just then this family rolled up, and out of all the parking spaces in this area they parked right next to me! Through this interruption God gave me an insight. This insight did not come through the angry mom who was obviously frustrated with something as she barked orders to her kids as they carried chairs, umbrellas, coolers, wood, and boxes and bags of food to a fire ring. Now, I’m not sure what circumstances of life frustrated her to the point of yelling at her kids, but there was no affirmation, no joy, just exasperation and a lot of ‘you’re not doing it right.’ I could hear every word and see her pursed lips, furrowed brow and clenched teeth. Many times she threw up her hand and sighed loudly, walked away in disgust and I even think she kicked the sand. Though this was interesting and a bit entertaining, mostly disturbing, the insight I want to tell you did not come from her. Yet it did cause me to wonder how I deal with the frustrations of life. Do I pass them on to others or do I take them to the Lord? Has not our Lord said…
Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
And are we not encourage to…
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus) because He cares for you.
Are we not to take life’s issues, frustrations, cares and concerns, and through prayer express how we feel and how life is affecting us to the Lord? The answer is yes, and though the circumstance may not change, Jesus will help us deal with our struggles so we can walk through them without damaging those around us. But this was not the insight that really hit me. As well, this notable insight did not come through the preteen son, who, though was doing what his mom commanded, was sporting that “I’m doing what you tell me but I’m going to have you pay for it in my negative attitude.’ He was complaining about everything; that he was there too early, he was too tired, he could not lift the box (yet his younger sister seemed to lift it just fine), he could not carry the table, he pinched his finger, it was too hot, the water is too cold, the air is smelly, he got sand in his shoe…there was no joy or love or want to be there at all, just a vomiting of negativity he unleashed at everything and anyone he could…the trash can, his towel, that table, a seagull he tried to peg with a stick. He even unleashed on his innocent sister and just as I was about to get out of the car to step in, his mom brought a stop to it, and wow did she lit into him. Yet what she was seeing was her own negativity reflecting back from her son. This did cause me to think about how I react. Do I just mirror others and treat them the way they treat me? Or do I do what Jesus said…
Luke 6:31 “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
If you want to be even more challenged read all of Luke 6. Like in Luke 6:27 & 28:
Luke 6:27-28 “But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
It’s easy to let this world’s negativity get to us so much we express it freely. A good insight, one that made me pause…maybe you too…but not the one I wanted to mention. The insight that came from this interruption was from the little girl of this family. As I watched her a smile never left her face. She bounced from one thing to another. When her mom yelled at her, she responded with a smile and “I’m sorry mommy I’m trying to be a good helper, I know I can do it better,” and she would skip off to help bring over another load. When her brother was getting rough with her she actually complemented him and was affirming how strong he was! Everything to her was an adventure and beautiful…the sand was perfect, the choice of their place on the beach was the best, the sky was a lovely shade of blue, and the ocean was just the right temperature. To her this was an impeccable day, a sea shell was a hidden treasure, everyone passing by got a hello, and there was fun and joy and play in all she did. When the darkness of the mom and boy’s negative cloud was looming and consuming the moment, the brightness of this little girl’s affirmation and love changed the environment! So here’s the insight and the question God put to me…who are you going to choose to be like? Are you going to choose the mom and boy or that precious little girl? We live in a world where the norm is more like the mom and boy; negative, tearing down, discouraging, demoralizing, depressing, and dispiriting…and we can either join in and reflect back what we are given or we can choose to make a difference.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
I could go on with verse after verse for the Bible encourages, challenges, and even commands us to affirm and love. I wonder what this world would be like if we would choose to live out these verses and be more like that little girl? We may even push back the darkness. Did not Jesus say…
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
We could make such a difference as we live out the love of Christ. That was the insight, and the challenge was to go out and show my world love. What about you? Seeking to live the love of Jesus with you, Mike