Sure Time on the Shoreline
“Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Galilee...This was now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead."- John 21:1, 14
I am quite sure that many of us have seen the bumper sticker that reads, "I'd rather be surfing." Well, over the last couple of weeks my mind has drifted to visions of the beautiful and unparalleled setting of the beach and ocean. The sands, the cascading waves, and the ocean's horizon make for a mesmerizing scene, but that is not really what has caught my eye or struck a nerve. A variety of things have my heart being pulled back to the ocean (no, I am not going Disney's Moana on you).
First and foremost, I am thinking of those in Houston who have been displaced, who have lost loved ones, and who have been impacted at dimensions unimaginable by Hurricane Harvey. With that natural disaster just a couple of weeks behind us, we now have the Caribbean and Florida bracing for Hurricane Irma, which is weaving a destructive pathway as a category 5 hurricane. These two "monster" storms have me calling out for the mercy of God for the one who is the Master of the universe, the Maker of the earth, and the One who can quiet the storm and reign in the seas. Psalm 107:28-29 tells us, "They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed." Lord, we speak MERCY over those in Houston, Florida, and in all places impacted by the recent hurricanes!
My mind is on the shores as we have entered into the fall season with a special and crucial teaching series on what it means to be a true follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. These teachings will have us looking at the words of Jesus as it relates to what He is asking of us and how He defines a disciple. The above passage takes us to a place of great triumph: Jesus had defeated death by rising from the grave. He is now at the Sea of Galilee, the very place He first called the disciples and the very place He promised to meet with them following His resurrection. As He had done before, from the shoreline of this popular fishing hub, the Messiah is calling them one again. And as they did before without any hesitation and with the fullest dimension of joy and faith, they come to Jesus. The picture of Jesus on that beach is the ultimate promise that He is faithful, He never fails us, and that He is forever alive and victorious. Hebrews 3:6 says, "But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house. And we are His house, if we indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory." Lord, we speak PRAISE over the fact that You will never leave us and you are always in control, no matter where we go and what we face!
There is a final (and personal) reason that I am contemplating the beauty of the beach. In the final weeks of summer our family made it a point to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. What made our last two visits to Zuma beach memorable for me had little to do with how nice the weather was, how epic the waves were, or how refreshing the day was. It was because on each beach trip we were surprised to run into an individual/family from our church! You may be thinking that it is nothing more than pure coincidence or happenstance. However, not only did the day and time of both parties being there have to match, but there also had to be a match with the precise location as Zuma beach stretches for miles and there are multiple parking lots and lifeguard stations to choose from. How amazingly wonderful, and may I say divinely orchestrated, it was to run into people we are already doing life and faith with from The Shepherd's House. We were able to touch base and connect with these dear friends. And more than that, I left the beach being reminded to pray for both individuals/families. Those two outings are a great reminder that we need each other way beyond just a Sunday gathering. We can cover each other in prayer; we can send an encouraging note; we can offer assistance with specific needs; we can point people to Jesus to grow in their faith by standing on His truth. Colossians 3:14 commands us, "Above all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Lord, we speak LIFE over our brothers and sisters in the church family, that they would be encouraged, strengthened, and anchored in Your hope!
For many the beach is the place to be, but may it be for us a present reminder to pray for those who have experienced the storms of life, to stand in the promise that Jesus is always present and calling to us, and to stay connected to one another in a daily and deep fellowship. For our fellowship with Christ and each other is the most beautiful place to behold as II Corinthians 13:14 reminds us, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship with the Holy Spirit be with you all."