I start my mornings lately with a devotional about thankfulness and gratitude. It helps me start the day with a grateful heart; a posture I need to practice daily. I believe we can never have too much thankfulness. It has expanded my outlook on changing seasons and waiting. Thankfulness spurs contentment, joy, and praise for the gifts God has given us — even at the dawn of a new day.
The other morning's reading referenced C.S. Lewis’ thoughts from “The Weight of Glory” about people being too easily pleased. He says we are “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are too easily pleased.” Instantly my mind starting playing “Holiday at Sea” by Steve Moakler. It’s a song I’ve listened to for several years now, but the weight of the meaning behind that phrase hit me in a new way that morning. Give the song a listen if it’s a new one for you.
I think C.S. Lewis is saying this: We settle for less as ignorant children — even though we should know better — we don’t.
This idea is different from delighting in simple joys. We are too easily pleased with whatever we can reach first. Even mud.
I don’t know about you, but a beach trip sounds pretty amazing right now. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll have my beach bag ready. But so often we settle for what we can get our hands on at the moment. We are impatient and crave instant gratification. As a result, we'll take a pile of mud instead of a million grains of sand. Rain puddles instead of salty waves washing the shore. Mudslides on land instead of freedom out at sea. Fill in the blank instead of having every need met in Jesus.
The imagery of a child playing in the mud also struck my attention and sent my heart straight back to my trip to Haiti last year. As I was boarding a catamaran taking us back to the beautiful private beach, I looked back at the village and saw several children playing along the muddy shoreline of their home with sticks and other trash. Out across the water was the biggest mountain I have ever seen reaching up towards the heavens. But mud surrounded the children, and it astounded me. How could a place so beautiful be so poor and muddy? They did not know anything different from that mud. The mountain and brilliant blue water across the horizon was merely background noise.
Then I realized that we too can be those children wading in muddy water. While those children might not know the word poverty, they live it daily. Let me first be clear: I cannot even begin to relate to their living situations, and it breaks my heart. Here at Winnefred Austin, we support a Haitian child through Compassion International because those very children marked me from that day. But it also makes me stop and think about the condition of our hearts. In a way, we are no different. The same mud on their shore sometimes washes up on the beaches of our souls. Our gaze gets stuck in the mud when there's a beautiful mountain across the water. If only we would look up.
Instead of wading in mud along the shore, I want to choose the holiday at sea — "hoisting the sails up, the wind rolling free" (Steve's song lyrics) and giving it all to the Lord. Washing ourselves from muddy water is not possible without Jesus. Even when our reality might actually be a muddy shore, it does not have the final word on our hearts and our perspectives. Surroundings and circumstances aside, God is more concerned about the condition of our hearts. Those children in Haiti, yours, and mine. He has far more to offer than the mud right in front of us. Should we wipe the mud from our eyes, maybe, just maybe, we could see clearly for the first time. Yet we only begin to catch a glimpse on this side of heaven because there is so much more to be seen
— more than we could ever want or imagine here.
I believe we settle for less because we are afraid to ask for more, for too much, or to be disappointed when things don’t happen the way we expect. We sit in mud because we fear failure. Think about it for a minute. Would you rather take a risk and let your sails out at sea, or sit stuck in the mud of your own fear, doubt, and complacency at the shore? We are so quick to forget that God is bigger than anything we face here. He delights big time in our big time goals, desires, needs, and prayers.
Golly, C.S. Lewis got me again. Steve's song got me again. Haiti got me again. It’s amazing to me how the Lord repeatedly, kindly, gently, profoundly, uses our everyday encounters to bring us back to Him. Give it a try! Stop and take notice today. As I abide in the Lord, I’m challenging myself to step off shore and see mud as just mud. What would life look like if we left the mud that was holding us back and
— as Bob Goff says
— did an all-in cannonball jump into the water? Now that would be quite a holiday at sea.
All photos above were taken on my trip in northern Haiti last year.