Happy first day of fall! Summer comes to a close right around the same time as my birthday. I know we’re all pumped for fall by the time September rolls around, but it’s still summer technically on September 18th. (Sorry to break it to you, Starbucks pumpkin spice latte!) I get it though. I’m a summer gal at heart but I’m always looking towards the next season. I have been making calendars for 6 years now, and each year takes plenty of planning. I’m living in one year and planning for another! But each season I try a little more to live in the present. New seasons bring new perspectives with changing temperatures. Next year’s calendar will come in its time. Fall is here in its time, too.
So on this first fall day, I want to remember summer for all it was; one unlike any other. If you're like me, it had a lot of feels. Pandemic, getting engaged, building a house. (Crazy! Exciting! Joyful! With a side of I have no idea how to plan anything right now!) Nothing says summer to me quite like our annual family beach trip. This year — we didn’t know if it would happen. Our first plans were canceled, and we barely squeezed in a quarantined week seaside at the end of July (right after I got engaged!)
One afternoon we were standing knee-deep in the tide looking for seashells. We scooped them up by the handful like little kids with fishing nets! We noticed my mom kept picking up the same broken shell after tossing it back in the water. Several times later, she kept the shell instead of throwing it back. She said the shell reminded her this: Every time we wash up on the shore, God always picks us up. He never stops coming back to find us. Cracks, imperfections and all, He keeps us and never lets us go.
No matter how many times we are tossed into the waves, we are never lost. We are His people and He is our Shepherd. The saltwater washing over these seashells may toss around and completely soak them. They could be turned upside down and buried in sand. But the same water also washes, making them shine once they reach shore. So does God work in our lives to wash us and teach us how to navigate rough waters with renewed spirit. Once we reach shore, the depth of beauty will be evident from the salt and water cleansing and purifying us through the tides of time.
My prayer for 24 is to stand firm — anchored in the Psalm 24 promise that God has planted firm foundations for the earth in Him alone. And those foundations are deeper than the sea. Standing firm is living into the legacy God has planted deep in us. It’s a legacy we’re made to share with the next generation and the next after that. The phrase stand firm started showing up everywhere for me right as 2020 was beginning — before the pandemic. First I saw it on a bumper sticker. Then a favorite song and Scripture. Now stand firm are words of hope. Whatever waves we are facing today, even if saltwater is stinging our eyes, will meet sandy shore. We can stand firm in Christ because He is our solid rock; our firm foundation.
Back at the beach that week, one day was extra rainy. Have you ever seen the ocean before a rain storm? Big, dark, ominous looking clouds loom on the horizon. All too soon, they surround the beach and hide the sun. The air gets cool with a gust of sea-breeze. But you know what grabs me more than the strong, sand-flinging and umbrella-tossing, wind? The space where sky meets the sea. The ocean never looks more majestic and mysterious and marvelous than at the brink of a downpour. The brilliant water colors of emerald green and sea glass blue radiate against the clouds. They shine out against the darkness and cast light with every wave. The darkness cannot hide the light reflecting over the horizon.
Maybe this year has felt just like that — storm clouds loom over the normalcy of life before the pandemic. The things in life we love (and sometimes take for granted) are suddenly on pause or change altogether. Will the clouds ever lift? Yet we have hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. And this hope is found in the Lord alone. His love for us is higher, deeper, wider than we can imagine. Instead of worrying about things we cannot control, we can choose to focus on what is certain and true: God’s love and Word. So we can embrace this legacy over normalcy because it lasts through every circumstance. Now that is a legacy I want to be part of, how about you?