The Risky Business of Sea, Sun, and Sand

Crashing Waves

It loomed above me, this towering creature that must have measured at least five to six feet tall. I stared into its merciless jaws anticipating to be swallowed into the dark oblivion. I was terrified but I couldn’t make myself move because the beauty of the force before me froze my feet into place. After it had passed over me like I was nothing but another rock in its way, the wave crashed into the shore breaking into snowy white swirls around my toes, tossing sand, pebbles, and shards of shells to and fro. It was my first time playing in the waters of the frigid Pacific Ocean. I grew up in a land-locked state and my family never ventured toward the coast so this was quite a shocking experience, to see this “big wave” coast stretching out into the horizon. I was immediately intimidated by the size of these waves and recoiled when I found one of my best friends frolicking through the foam of what I deemed to be a very dangerous element. My eyes were vigilant and my muscles tense as I waited for the first sign of potential danger while she twirled and danced, carefree, through the waves.

I continued to watch her as she squealed in delight and disappear briefly as the waves broke over her head. I knew I was being slightly ridiculous and relaxed a little, releasing the tension in my body. I timidly inched my way deeper into the water where the waves climbed higher and watched their rhythmic movements. The icy waters licked at my bare skin as I swam out to meet my friend and as we laughed together I realized that I was never afraid of the wave itself but the force in which it made me face my own vulnerability. When you are in the ocean, no matter who you are, you are at the mercy of nature. Looking into the mouth of that wave I knew I was facing the wrath of nature. The wave doesn’t discriminate between strong swimmers or not, male or female, skin color or race. To a wave, you are just another obstacle standing in its infinite, unstoppable path toward the shore. This wave wasn’t going to judge based on anything I did or said; it was going to barrel right into me because I was just a fragile human being, made so that I can be broken and tossed around like nothing but a rag doll.

The Waters of Faith

The routine of the tides, the pull of the undertows, the precise beating of the waves, these elements are much stronger than I.  They can be instruments of destruction or of joy. So it is by faith that I initially step into that blue, watery field. By faith I risk every scenario possible, I dive into the fathoms and brace myself for the ride as I’m thrown around as each crest crashes into itself.  Sand peppers my skin leaving me with a burning, red rash. By the end of the day I’m ragged and beaten. I itch all over knowing that I will end up taking half the beach home within every little crevice of my body. So people ask us and we find ourselves thinking, “Why go in the water in the first place?”

As I mull over this question and reflect upon my experiences I find that I am thinking about more than just water and waves. The pointlessness and the hassle of it all seem to prompt the question and I remember hearing the same tone of voice used when people asked me about my faith, about Christianity: “Why go in the first place?” My choice to be Christian and to follow an unseen God with the power to remove all evil, all brokenness, and all imperfection but doesn't, leaves me imagining how I could possibly explain it to someone else. I struggle against my faith and against the truth just as much as I struggle against the impeding waves. The fight leaves me feeling much like a day at the beach does, ragged and beaten; so why this fight and why this particular struggle? Sometimes it just difficult to have faith, to be a Christian, and to do all that lifestyle entails. I imagine my spirit is tossed around by the forces of doubt, contrary knowledge, facts, and lies much like I am by the waves; and it is with that same vulnerability and shyness that I step into my faith, my calling, and my purpose. It’s a big risk and there’s a lot I don’t know. However, I feel like I can answer the question of “why” to my faith much like I answer the question of “why” to the waves. “Well, because I love to swim.”   

It’s okay to enter this risky business of faith timidly, but as you get used to the waters may you boldly dive into the blue depths knowing that in the end, it’s all worth it. In fact, you couldn't imagine doing anything less. It is what you love to do; the exhilarating sense of adventure and the wellspring of life that comes along with the belief in something greater than yourself tells you so. Let the waves of faith and the spirit carry you, gently rocking you just past the break; float and be content knowing that you were always meant to swim.

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About the Author :

Sarah Dannemiller is a crazy-confused post-grad from central Indiana who is a curious, fun-loving individual doing her best to leave a legacy of love and laughter. She might have the tendency to obsess over words, corny jokes, and delicious cookie-dough ice cream! But she has a passion for justice, believes in this world, and the good work that God is doing in it.