I just got back from a beach trip to Panama City Beach, Florida.
One thing I absolutely love about the beach, besides the obvious, is that I don’t have to use a hair straightener.
I have naturally curly hair. Therefore, the humidity in the air makes it look really good, and all I really have to do after I get out of the shower is pat it dry (well, and maybe a little mouse ;).
On vacation, mission trips, and church camp is about the only three occasions where I have a “no straighteners allowed” policy. I do not take a hair straightener on these trips. There are a couple reasons behind this…
First of all, at any of these three occasions it is just not neccissary to be spending that much time on my hair…there are usually more important things occupying my time. Such as, relaxing, travelling, learning, working,…whatever.
Second of all, at any of these three occasions I am usually in a humid place where my hair will go curly whether I like it or not. Therefore, why fight it?
You get the picture.
I love that when I am at the beach I am at one of my most “Caroline” states. I feel like I revert back to whatever my true self is. I try and be my true self every day, but somehow I always end up trying to straighten out things, whether it be my hair or my life, for the sake of seeming a certain way or feeling a certain way. I can wear what I want. I can leave my hair alone, and it looks good instantly. I can smell of the fresh air with out weezing. I can lay in the sun and get a natural glow. I can play in the water like a kid. I can gaze upon the beauty of God’s creation and appreciate His handiwork. I can observe other people interacting. I can read as much as I like (I read 2 books and 2 magazines in 3 days this time). I can get up early and have quiet time while hearing God’s sweet whispers through the ocean tide.
Being at the beach is a pure joy to me.
In high school, one our leaders in the youth ministry, Karen Bradfield, has as great a love for the beach as my family. At a girls retreat in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, I remember her and I discussing how we always heard God more clearly there.
There is just something in the rhythm of the tides. It just echos God’s love for us. It is long and wide as the eyes can see. His love is as big and furious as a hurricane. His love crashes on to the shores of our hearts. Then He draws us right back in to Him. He raises us up. Then pours us right back out to the places we were before to then hydrate that area of the shore. Simply beautiful.
I was pondering the other morning…I wonder if nonbelievers have just never been to the beach? I mean really, how could you look out on the spanse of the ocean that is so big, beautiful, full of live animals, millions of grains of sand, with the sun forcing movement in the water (or something like, one of you rocket scientist friends can explain it to me later if I got it wrong!), the starry sky above, and simply not believe in something bigger than yourself? It seems impossible to me.
At the beach, I am forced to throw aside all my hair straighteners and come just as I am. It’s like He likes it better that way. As if He is saying come to me where I am echoing in the air. Come to me the way you are. Whatever it is. If you are beautiful, tired, lonely, busy, fat, thin, short, tall, pale, tan, hopeless, hopeful, whatever, come to me the way you are and I will take you in to one of my Holy of Holies. He draws you in, calm and reassuring, and echos His love to you…just like the song,...your sins are forgotten, they’re on the ocean floor.
I know, not everyone gets to go to the beach every year. However, I think everyone can find a few places in their lives that are “no straighteners allowed” zones. Places where you aren’t going to let by any chance your flesh control or interfere with where God has placed you at that moment. Those places can be on a walking trail, in your room with worship music, or even golfing! Take time to be you and go to Him just as you are ready to accept His love and grace.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”