Staff Reflections: Lessons from the Beach

Staff Reflections: Lessons from the Beach

From Ruth Heilman, Minister of Music …

Lessons From the Beach … and Psalm 139
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139: 9-10

We won’t be visiting the beach this year. Instead, we have elected to have a “stay-cation,” skipping our annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Every time an old OBX picture pops up on my Facebook Memories, I feel a pang of sadness that I won’t experience the “Vitamin Sea” effect this summer. I could play ocean sounds on my phone and sit on the deck with a book and a cool beverage, but it just wouldn’t be the same. I’m very thankful to God for the gifts of sweet memories and photos!

I was born near the Pacific Ocean, and I’ve spent my entire adult life on the east coast. Whenever we visit the beach, a feeling of extreme peace comes over me as I sink my toes into the sand and take in the sparkling sea, warm sunshine, rhythmic waves, and colorful sunrises and sunsets. I feel the amazing power of God and, at the same time, the intimacy of His love for me, just a tiny grain of sand on a vast beach.

Over the years, we have collected a lot of seashells, which can be found in several large bowls around the house. We’ve also made sure to find one large shell each year to document our trip, writing the date and location on the inside of the shell and adding it to the collection. You may have a similar collection in your home. If you were to sort the shells by type, size, or color, you would find that, while there are similarities and differences, they are all beautiful in their own ways. If you then chose one shell and tried to find its match, you would find that no two shells are exactly alike. Just like seashells, we have wonderful similarities and differences, we are all made beautiful in God’s image, and no two of us are alike. Each of us is unique, thanks be to God. It would be boring if every seashell, or every person, were exactly the same. We are reminded of this in Psalm 139: 13-14, where David says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

As for that little slice of heaven, South Nags Head, hopefully we’ll be back next summer. For now, I think I’ll put on my sandals and some beach tunes, soak up the (sunscreen-protected) sun, and check out my seashell collection again. I know God is with me, at the beach, on the back deck, and everywhere I go. “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.”  Psalm 139: 17-18