June 6, 2013
Sitting on the boardwalk at the edge of the world on California’s coast and the waves roll in and roll out again. Squadrons of pelicans, all head and wings, glide up the coast, slow flapping and so close to the water I expect to see the water ripple under their wing tips- but it doesn’t.
The waves provide endless fascination in their dancing approach to the shore. Some waves gain new strength from previous ones which have rolled back out to sea, only to be caught up again in the power of the approaching wave, strength adding to strength, producing a thunderous crashing dance of intense power, reach and noise. Other waves are undercut by the receding energy of previous ones so that the cresting, foam white wave appears to be stuck in a line out from shore, one dancer cut off by another cutting in.
This strip of sand and surf, soil and sea is the meeting of two worlds- the world I live in and on and one I don’t.
I know what I am- a landlubber, feet firmly planted on Terra Firma. The sea is so, so other; so unpredictable, so much to be taken on it’s own terms, which are always so uncertain. Even the shore where the sea rolls in is uncertain, as sand gives way in different degrees of softness or firmness, making walking more or less difficult, more or less fast or slow.
Two worlds meet on the rocky and sandy shore and I’m firmly planted on shore, even though I enjoy the waves roiling around my feet and legs. I’ve never surfed or boogey boarded, never joined those who make the ocean, or at least its surface, part of their own world.
I confess envy for those who lay claim to both worlds: sand and surf, soil and sea, Terra Firma and el Mar. And I’ve noticed that God has gifted some of His creation to be at home in and on both worlds, if not equally, yet in a way that seems equally comfortable.
Take Harbor Seals- they can spend all day diving the depths of these waters, chasing and outpacing fish, rising to look around and plunging back in again, all with what appears to be absolute ease. Then they beach, and rhythmically launch forward to spend an afternoon on a warm sandy beach. They lie sublimely on sandy shores or drape themselves across low lying rocks, soaking in sun and warming themselves. Then, slowly turning, they simply roll into the sea and are gone. No ripple, no splash. They move as easily from one world to another as that.
I think death will be like that.
When my body draws its last breath, either in a gasp or a sigh, my soul will slip into the waters of eternity and life as easily as that seal into the water that is the primary place it was made for. I’ll rise to join the lofty brightness of heaven as easily as the Harbor Seal rises to the light of day from the seas darker depths. I’ll join Christ in His heavenly home, not with the lurching movement of a seal on shore, but with the graceful ease of that same seal in water, it’s true and best home.
I know that while this earth may feel homey now, ultimately it’s not my home- I’m made for something else, somewhere else, some One else. And because of Jesus’ bloody struggle in conquering sin and death all who trust in Christ will slip from the shores of this life to the land where there is, and to the One who is, Life itself.
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