Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Old Friend, The Sea

"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in the Lord his God:
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is:
which keepeth truth forever..."
Psalm 146:5,6
(KJV)

When I was just a teenager, Mom, Dad, and I moved from Ohio to the west coast of Florida.

I will never forget the intensity of the blast of July heat when, after the very long drive,
 we finally arrived in FL and opened our car doors to step outside.
I was used to Ohio, having been raised there and having lived there most of my life,
so moving to the tropical atmosphere of Florida was like a shock to my system...
both weather and culture-wise.

Before moving to Florida, I had never before seen an ocean.
I had seen pictures and read stories about them and seen them in movies,
but to actually be near one, to feel sand between my bare toes, and to breathe in the salty smells of sea air was completely foreign to me.

I can't say I remember my exact first time going to see the sea,
but what I can remember is the way it made me feel.
The magnitude of its size was completely overwhelming.
I felt so small...so insignificant,
standing there listening to and watching the raging thrust of the incoming and outgoing tide.
During that first visit, I never dreamed how much the sea would come to mean to me,
nor did I realize that the Gulf of Mexico shore would become a place where I would
retreat to pray and get alone with God.


Through the years, I loved going there...alone...in the evenings when I needed to think and reflect and seek God's face.
One of my favorite places to pray back then was while seated on a boulder on the beach at sunset.
I don't know how to describe the peace or the nearness to God I felt there.
Is there anything in the world more beautiful than to sit and quietly observe
the evening sun dropping ever so gently behind the ocean's waters?
That point, when the top part of its arch disappears,
and it looks like it is swallowed up into the deep,
leaving all shades of orange, red, and yellow in its wake, is just breathtaking.

There came a time when God led me to leave the west coast and move to Florida's east coast
where I was introduced to the waters of the Atlantic.
I loved going there with friends and sitting near the shore...
just close enough to the water to splash and cool off,
but not far enough out to feel unsafe.

One of the most precious moments of my life happened near the Atlantic ocean on a Florida beach.
It was there that the love of my life took me one early February, moonlit night,
after a date, and asked me to become his bride.
I will never forget the way the rays of the moon fell over us, as if God were intent upon making His approval and happiness for us known.

When we were newly married, one of our favorite spots was a barrier island sanctuary called
Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, FL.
I used to love to go there during high tide and watch the water splash upwards through the "blowholes".

Photo Source

Tonight, I am sitting here, at peace,
listening to the continual pounding of the surf against yet another shore...
a steady, never-ceasing rush of sheer power and vast strength.
Though I love hearing it, and its rhythm brings a semblance of calm,
at the same time, the sound of it is staggering.
It is so loud....as its powerful roar wafts in through the open door near where I sit.

I feel a sense of sadness, as I contemplate that in the morning,
we have to leave here.
We will stand on the balcony one more time,
and we will bid farewell to my old friend, the sea.
Being near it brings me the same sense of nearness to God as do the mountains.
There is something about the ocean and the mountains that reminds me so much of Him.
Their sheer immensity makes me realize, once again, that the One Who created them
is even bigger than they are.

Earlier, I stood outside and watched the waves, and as I did,
I wistfully told Him how hard it is to leave.

I heard Him whisper back to me,
"This won't be your last time here, child,
and when you return, it will still be here."

There are few things in this life that are unmovable and unchangeable.
The sea is one of them.
No matter how long in between visits,
no matter how far away you roam,
you will always find it just as you left it when you return.
Depending upon the gravitational pull of the moon,
the tides fluctuate, but the waves never stop.
Regardless of who is standing here watching them from this 12th floor balcony,
their faithful incoming and outgoing continues non-stop
and is not contingent on who is around and whether they like or dislike the continual roar.

The waves never stop because they, 
along with moon that pulls upon them, 
are subject to the command and authority of their Almighty Creator, God.

One thing that has always amazed me is the way the waves can only come so far on to the shore,
then they are pulled back by an invisible, but all-powerful command.
Isn't this knowledge, alone and by itself, powerful proof that there is a Higher Power Who has to be maintaining control over such a huge mass of intensity?
Otherwise, wouldn't this colossal force overflow its banks and flood the earth?

God Himself has set the boundaries.

Jeremiah 5:22 says,
"Do you not fear Me? declares the Lord.
Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea.
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it."
(NASB)

"Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth,
as if it had issued out of the womb?
When I made the cloud the garment thereof,
and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,
And brake up for it My decreed place,
and set bars and doors,
and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further:
and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?"
Job 38:8-11
(KJV)

Oh, the glory, strength, power, and all-encompassing greatness of our God is immeasurable!

Nicole Coleman Mullen captured some of what I am feeling,
while she penned one of my favorite songs called "My Redeemer Lives".
I hope you will take the time to listen and really absorb the words.



If video doesn't load, click here.

As I ponder, as I feel His presence, as I once again am reminded of His awesomeness....
sitting here, near this massive, mighty sea...
He seems to say,
"Close your eyes.
Listen close.
Do you hear My voice?
Through the waves,
upon the mighty tide.
I am here."

I sit.
I listen.
And as I listen, it occurs to me that I should grab my laptop and type out His words
and share this preciousness, this fellowship, this communion, this visit with Him....
with you here...
for you may need to hear this, too.

"All of this, child, it is Mine.
I created it.
I maintain it.
I control it."

"The sea is His, and He made it:
and His hands formed the dry land."
Psalm 95:5

"If I can hold all of this in My hands,
if I can keep its force from overflowing its banks,
can I not take care of you?
If I can direct its ebb and flow,
can I not guide your life?
Can I not make your path plain in front of you?
Look!
Do you see an end?
You see the wide expanse.
It goes as far as your eyes can behold.
All of this is part of My footstool.
By this, can you see just a small glimpse into how big I really am?
Yet, I care about the smallest, most minute detail of your life.
You are Mine.
I have redeemed you.
Your life has a Divine purpose.
With all of its glory and beauty and magnitude,
I did not send My Son to die for the sea.
I sent Him to die for you.
For your redemption.
You were fallen.
I sent Him to lift you up...to raise you to sit in heavenly places while on your pilgrim earth journey,
then to bring you to where I am to reign with Me throughout eternity.
As you look out over the waters in front of you,
can you fathom their depths?
Can you see what lies beneath their surface?"

"So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable,
both small and great beasts."
Psalm 104:25

"Lurking below what you can see are worlds never discovered.
The depths of what are not seen are beyond imagination.
Into such waters, I have cast your sins.
No matter how big your transgressions,
the sea is big enough to contain them."

"He will turn again,
He will have compassion upon us;
He will subdue our iniquities;
and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
Micah 7:19

"For as the heaven is high above the earth,
so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103:11,12


"No more than you can fathom the expanse of the sea,
can you fathom My love for you.
It is deeper than this.
It is wider.
The sea has bounds.
It can only come so far.
My love for you is without limits.
It surpasses the power of the ocean's force.
See the waves?
Watch them crash.
Some of them are stronger than others.
Some make more noise.
Some gently ease onto the sand, without making much ado.
Others come at it with noisy violence.
Just as I am in control of the waves,
I am sovereign over the ebb and flow of your life.
I control the force and intensity of the trials.
I only let them come so far.
They are held in check by My word and My command.
I know you feel uncertain.
You wonder what I am doing.
You feel the undercurrent, yet you see no path in front of you.
It is covered...like the waters cover the depths of the sea.
I have parted waters like these.
My children had no way across.
The sea in front of them looked as impenetrable, impassable, and impossible to ford as the waters that now lie in front of you.
Yet, I made a way for them...
not around the waters, not above the waters, but through the waters.

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
Isaiah 43:2

"Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea,
and a path in the mighty waters..."
Isaiah 43:16

"I moved the waters when they had no where to go.
When the enemy pursued, and was near to overtaking My people,
it was still My will for them to go forward.
So, I parted the waters.
Imagine that, child.
Imagine walking to the edge of this sea and seeing the waters divide.
Picture them forming a heap on both sides of that divide.
Then picture the ground in the middle, a path, being completely and totally dry in front of you.
Imagine that heap of waters on both sides of the path spanning the entire length of the sea in front of you, clear to the other side, past the realm of what you can see.
I made that dry path as far as it needed to stretch in order for every man, woman, boy, and girl that belonged to Me to pass over clear to the other side.
There was no danger of those heaps of water coming down over My people and causing them to drown.
I controlled the elements.
I told them what to do.
If you needed these waters to literally stand in two heaps on both sides of a dry path in front of you, do you believe I could make this happen?
How much more can I part the waters of impossibility in your life?
There is nothing too hard for Me, child."



"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh:
is there anything too hard for Me?"
Jeremiah 32:27

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them,
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26



If video doesn't load, click here.

"I own the cattle on a thousand hills and everything else, too.
I speak, and the waters of the sea listen and obey My command.
I speak, and the springs of wealth in this world give up their riches.
I am able to take care of you.
I speak, and none can resist.
My will and purpose will be performed in your circumstances.
What you must do is believe.
Moses had to raise that rod in order for the sea to follow my command.
I use human instruments.
Had he not had the faith to raise the rod, the sea would have remained undivided and unchanged.
When you act in obedience, even when it doesn't make sense,
even when My command defies human wisdom and understanding,
you activate My power.
Do you have faith like this?
Are you that sure of My word?
The door is before you, child.
You must lift your hand to unlock it.
I will show you what to do.
But, you must be obedient, no matter how impossible it sounds.
I am controlling every, single detail of your life.
You are here for a purpose.
Every step you take is ordered by Me.
Nothing that happens in your every day life is happenstance or coincidence.
All of it is Divinely instructed and planned.
Don't doubt Me.
Can you not see the vastness of My power...sitting here...by the sea?
Can you not hear the crashing of the waves?
It continues whether you are here or not.
It will be in operation the next time you come here.
The sea will still be here.
It will still be held in check, at My command.
The waves will still be crashing upon the sands of the shore.
A constant, steady reminder of My faithfulness.
You will see."

"The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,
yea, than the mighty waves of the sea."
Psalm 93:4

So, how are you, my friend?
Are there problems in your path?
Is your heart heavy, burdened down with worry and stress?
Perhaps, you are awaiting the results of a medical test
or feeling the sting of a love grown cold.
Maybe you are standing at a crossroads, baffled as to which way to go.
Perchance you are battling a long-term illness, and it seems the night will never end.
It could be that you are now in the grip of deep remorse over past mistakes.
Maybe you now walk through the valley of the shadow of a loved one's death.
Perhaps your womb is barren,
your arms are empty,
your heart is broken.
Maybe you would give everything you own for the chance to share your life and the love that overflows your lonely heart.

Sorrow and heartache are common to us all.
But there is a God.
The same God Who holds the mighty sea within His control and grasp
is the God Who watches over you....the God who will never forget you
because He has engraved you upon the palms of His hands.  (Isaiah 49:16)
You are His chosen one...dear to His heart...the apple of His eye.  (Zechariah 2:8)

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying,
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee."
Jeremiah 31:3

I don't know your personal circumstances,
but I do know some One Who is bigger than any hurt, obstacle, or trouble you face.
He is that big, yet, He sees every tear you cry,
He hears your most faintly-whispered prayer,
and He cares so much for you that He sent His only Son to die an anguished death for your sins.

He longs for you to come to Him when you are broken,
to turn to Him in your moments of grief,
and to allow Him to heal the deepest wounds of your heart.

A few days have passed since I started this devotional.
We are back home now, and I am missing my old friend, the sea.
But, I know it is there...steadfast, unchangeable, and unmovable,
waiting with open arms to welcome us back again.
In a thousand different ways, the sea reminds me of the One Who made it,
and Who now holds it...and me...and you, my friend...in the palm of His mighty hands.

32 comments:

  1. Cheryl,

    This is just lovely. Being near the sea stirs something up in my soul, too -I think it does everyone whether they know what to call it or not. He speaks through those powerful waves and the quiet wash away on the shore, doesn't He? Thanks for writing these beautiful words and reminding me of the power of the One we praise!

    Blessings from a fellow #TellHisStory blogger : )

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    1. YES, He surely does speak through the waves! It was precious to my soul. Thank you ever so much for your sweet visit, Bethany. I am so happy to "meet" you! God bless you.

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  2. Hi Cheryl! Sounds like you've had a wonderful vacation! I really enjoy nature, and especially being by the water. I have heard that nature is so inviting because it purely is, and cannot choose to other than what God has called it to be. Maybe that's it, I don't know. But the peace and enveloping quiet is such peace to my soul.
    Your engagement by the beach sounds so lovely. Being with your true love right by the beach you love so well. God has been so good to you, and you know it too. Water is an integral part of His works, and we are blessed.
    Have a wonderful Wednesday,
    Ceil

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    1. I love nature so much...it just beckons me to come and sit low at His feet...to hear what He has to say. So precious and sweet. YES, dear friend, I am so very blessed by God, and I do not have words to thank Him enough. He is an awesome God Who is so worthy of every bit of our worship and praise. Thank you so much for stopping by...your visits are always such a blessing. :)

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    1. Aww...you're sweet! I imagine one day I will, Lord willing. :)

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  4. "The earth declares Your majesty!"
    It won't come as a big surprise to you that I share your feelings and thoughts toward the ocean and the sovereign hand of our Father. You just expressed it better than I ever could. You captured the heart and essence of how we can be so moved by God's creation and then compare it to how much He cares for each one of His own. Indeed we are blessed. We just need to sit still in the middle of His grace and presence and honor Him in prayer.

    Thanks for the lift, sister. I'll be sitting by the Pacific in about a month contemplating these wise words and our Father's love.

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    1. Oh, thank you SO much, Floyd! Your encouraging words are so appreciated. I have never been to the Pacific coast, but I can only imagine how beautiful and serene it is! I hope you enjoy every moment you are privileged to spend there, and I trust God's presence will be more real to you than ever. You are such a blessing. May God bless you richly in return.

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  5. "But there is a God." Speaks so loudly to my soul this morning! "But there is a God." Puts a smile on my face as I remember and realize anew that God is here, He cares, He carries, He loves. Thank you, sweet sister, for this beautiful devotion this morning!!

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    1. Thank YOU, dear friend, for your precious comments and sweet visit. It meant so much to me and made my day. I pray you feel His arms under you and around you holding you extra-close. Much love to you.

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  6. What beautiful memories and encouragement! Love this!

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    1. Thank you ever so much for your sweet visit and encouragement!! I am so blessed to "meet" you! God bless you abundantly. :)

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  7. To know that in the God is so ever present in our surrounding and in our lives is overwhelming and beautiful all at once. Your words are beautiful and a wonderful reminder of our God. That His will is to care for us and there is nothing in our lives to impossible for Him. Thank you for sharing. ♥

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for your dear, encouraging words! I am so grateful for your visit and trust God will richly bless you. So happy to "meet" you! :)

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  8. Oh, how I long to be by the sea now :) Thank you for sharing these words! And I will now have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day...which is not a bad thing :)

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    1. Aww...I am sorry you are missing and longing for the sea! Trust God will make a way for you to get there soon! You are right...that is definitely a good song to have stuck in your head! Thank you ever so much for your sweet visit. So happy to "meet" you!! God bless.

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  9. This is a beautiful post. I too had never seen the ocean until about 10 years ago when my daughter moved to the Portland, Oregon area. The first time I saw the waters a gasp of pleasure and delight escaped my mouth and every time I visit the ocean it still gives me that same sense of awe. I remember the Jesus who was a fisherman and knew the sea well and think how much He cared for me. Thanks so much for sharing !!

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Rebecca! It is always a blessing to see that you have been here. :) I so appreciate the thoughts you shared. God bless you abundantly. :)

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  10. "But there is a God." What beautiful words. Life can be difficult but God is so faithful. Over and over in my life He's shown His faithfulness. I love the sea, too, and I'm always reminded of my Creator and the beauty He gives.

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    1. Yes, He is so faithful....such a dear and precious Friend! How I praise Him for all He has done! Thank you for stopping by, Pamela. :)

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  11. Cheryl, this is such a moving piece that really ministers to me. I appreciate you sharing these words of encouragement.

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    1. I am so thankful, Wanda. It is always such a dear blessing to see that you have stopped by here. God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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  12. This is lovely.

    I remember how small I felt when I first saw the ocean. It was the most overwhelming and amazing feeling.

    Thank you for sharing such lovely words of encouragement!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer! Your words are precious to me and so encouraging. Thank you for the wonderful link-up and for stopping by! God bless you. :)

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  13. From the age of five years old, I grew up in the Oakland side of the San Francisco Bay. We had the Alameda Estuary, when we could hike with Mom, across the High Street Bridge and then on to the beach at Alameda. As teen agers we rode the Key system train across the Bay Bridge and on to "Play Land" that was also near seal beach. There you could experience the tide and the roar of the ocean. Your awesome post brings back sweet memories, then we look to water so often mentioned in the Scriptures. The Water of Live flowing out from the Believer to reach others who are thirsting for eternal life. Our Pastor preached about the river flowing out of the temple in the Old Testament, coming out until it was ankle deep, then waist deep and finally flooding so it was necessary to swim. He said, we are the temple and God desires the living water to flow out from us to reach others. Your scriptures were refreshing as they splashed over us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Oh, such sweet memories you have, Hazel. How wonderful to have been raised near the sea! YES, the dear Water of Life flowing freely for you and me...how very grateful I am for HIM and the life-giving water He provides! I love the thoughts your pastor has been bringing out. God bless you richly, dear friend. :)

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  14. Oh my! How much I miss the sea. Sitting on the edge of the ocean is one of life's most peaceful blessings isn't it?

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    1. YES, my friend, it surely is. I could stay there forever and never leave!!! I have thought many times that it would be a blessing to live right near the sea and open the windows every day, letting in that refreshing air! Oh, well, it doesn't hurt to dream, does it? God bless you for stopping by...I enjoyed our visit.

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  15. Thank you so much Cheryl for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. When I grew up we lived about an hour from the sea and we didn't go much, but when we did it was how you said, powerful. Thank you so much for the reminder about a God who controls the sea also holds us in the palm of His hand. What a wonderful message of hope and peace and comfort. Be blessed today my friend. xxx

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement, dear friend. I am always so blessed when you stop by. God bless you richly. :)

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  16. What a Mighty God we serve!
    Your words here remind me of the Pacific Ocean. I was born in San Diego, CA as a Navy child. We moved around but when I was going into high school, we moved back. The ocean was my place of calming and soothing as I, too, loved the constant roll of God's mighty sea. I spent many an evening on the beach alone, writing poetry. I also loved to go and absorb the rays as a goofy teenager which I am now paying for!! But I still loved the salt waters and the blues and the wild waves some days. I now live near the Gulf but it is just not the Pacific. Yet it is all God's beautiful creation.
    Glad I came back. Thanks for visiting me at SDG and sharing your care giving thoughts and experience.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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    1. It sounds like the Pacific has a charm all its own. I have never been there, but you just never know, the dear Lord may allow us to visit someday! It sounds like you have many a happy memory by the sea, also...what a delight to go there to find inspiration for poetry. That sounds just wonderful! So happy and grateful for your comments and encouragement. God bless you!!

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