Playdates with God: Walking on Water

Our first full day at the beach was a Sunday, and–tired as I was–I walked two and a half miles down the strand to where I knew a small flock of the faithful would be gathered. It was low tide, but the strong surf had dropped an endless deposit of shells, small smooth stones, and sea glass. The going was slow, but I savored each step–letting the ocean lap my ankles and bending to pick a shell up now and then to slip it in my pocket. But as time slid away and the sun rose higher over the blue, I began to panic that I wouldn’t make it in time. I bore down more firmly in the sand, willing my bare feet to move faster. For some reason unknown to me, I felt almost desperate to be with other believers as we began our holiday. When I finally arrived at the place where those neat rows of white chairs sat waiting in the sand…that slow-moving journey made the worship all the more sweet. When I returned to our little nest for the week, I pulled this out of my journal from a 2011 beach trip. Worship with me? Under the deep blue sky, beside the deep blue sea?
::
My boys sleep in this morning but I wander down the beach to where the white cross stands tall. There, a flock has gathered to worship on the shore. It’s a wonder to see: beach chairs and flip-flops, babies and retrievers, the ocean lapping the sand.

The preacher gives some opening words. He tells us that Shallotte Presbyterian Church has been holding these beach services for 45 years. I sigh and we sing our opening hymn: Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty. It’s one I know, straight from our pews back home but the words have never sounded sweeter—the voices of the saints lifted high on the wind and carried over the sea; the music of the waves the accompaniment.

As the preacher reads the Scripture, ten pelicans—all in a row—drift on the wind above us. I close my eyes. He preaches on Matthew 14:22-32.

…Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear…

When the preacher reads these words, the roar of the waves brings them to life. I gaze out over the ocean and feel the fear of the disciples. The sea is glass this morning and waves ride along it’s pane like living creatures. The sky is cotton candy—its pinks and blues pulled thin, melting into the horizon. How to tame such beauty?

My Lord knew this beauty well.

After the service, people pick up their chairs and walk back down the beach to where they came from. I don’t’ want it to end, so I sit in the sand under that cross and lose myself in the ocean for a time.

I am pulled with the surf, down to the water’s edge. The sand is hard here—pressed firm by the ocean. I find a razor shell and carve prayers into her cool—watch the ocean fold over the names of people I love and carry them out to sea.

When dawn breaks,
the sea glistens—
promise of a
million diamonds
wink in my eye. I
dip below her surface;
watch tiny surf swimmers
furtively dart away and
pull out silver coins,
porous porcelain, pearly
cups long abandoned—
sea currency—memories
of life once lived in
mystery.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:
 
  

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Comments

  1. Diane - AnExtraordinaryDay.net says

    Ahhhhhhh…..the telling of your special time of worship….the endless ocean….and your amazing word pictures….took me away….to a place I have missed. Thank you Laura for this lovely moment. May it’s memory stay fresh as you return to your ministry.

  2. Pam says

    I grew up around the ocean, and this is such a perfect capture. It also reminds me of one vacation long ago on Waikiki… a similar service there on the sands by the sea, and all those similar feelings of not wanting it to end, lifting up others in prayer…

    Lovely as you are, Laura. Thank you! ~ Pam, apples of gold, http://wordglow.wordpress.com

  3. says

    I’ve never been to a worship service by the seaside. It sounds wonderful, Laura! You always have such rich worship experiences and I love that you share that very sacred and vulnerable part of your life with us. Thanks again for this and for hosting!

  4. bluecottonmemory says

    Where is your beach that has church on Sunday morning – oh, I want to go there:) What blessed, peaceful, God-beauty you lead me to!

  5. Elizabeth Marshall says

    Such sweet peace in your writing. You are closer to me than you have ever been 🙂 Love your words here.

  6. says

    I felt a relief of stress just reading this. After a week’s “vacation” in New York City last week, I’m ready for the relaxation of the beach. 🙂 But God was in NYC too and we did get to play. (Although I still want some beach time though!)

  7. says

    Being a beach kid for so much of my earlier life, I, too, closed my eyes with you, although I did open them back to finish reading, but I envisioned the sound and the waves and the beauty of the sea. Tis a favorite place so wanted to be with you and think about walking on water with Jesus, surrendering myself to Him as He beckons me to come. Thank you for this today. Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  8. kingfisher says

    So glad you got to go to the beach, that the tide was right, that you found little beauty treasures, that you got to worship God with other believers. That you came away refreshed. Oh, how we all need those times of refreshment. May he send you his refreshment, often and always.

  9. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    It is so very special: that bond of the Holy Spirit between believers! Even when we are on holidays and we get together with other believers we do not know, that bond is always there!
    Blessings XX
    Mia

  10. smoothstones says

    You know I love a smooth stone. I love, too, that you went to church even when you were away from home; I was less disciplined on vacation. Still sorry we missed one another, and…have you ever visited the Mystery Hole?

  11. says

    (((grin))) Brandee…did you go to the Mystery Hole?? And have you gotten your equilibrium back yet? It’s a regular stop with our youth group. Those kids love the mystery…

  12. soulstops says

    Dear Laura,
    So glad you made it there in time for the service…there is something about worship by water, yes? Lovely, as always, my friend 🙂

  13. says

    You know this Florida girl loved your post — there is nothing sweeter than worship by the water. The vastness of the ocean always reminds me of God — He is mysterious and unfathomable and beautiful.

    Our church does baptisms on the beach. Everyone gathers. There is worship. There is a short challenge from the Word. And then there are souls identifying with their Savior. As they come up out of the water, the smiles on their faces are as bright as the sunny day. I love baptism days.

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