Sorry, did that make you anxious? I totally got anxious typing that, and all this anxiety was completely unnecessary, because all I'm doing is telling you a story that happened about a month ago. It's a God story and it involves the beach and pictures of the beach, so get pumped!
This whole thing started after an amazing week with my dad's side of the family, who are some of the most loving, encouraging people I know. I had just made the decision to love people with reckless abandon (more on that here) and to start this blog about my adventures, but I was having trouble with where to take it from there. Apart from the support system that my family had provided for me, I was struggling to love as I had when I was with them. When I was constantly being poured into by the people around me, nothing seemed more natural than to love recklessly; however, everyday life didn't fill me the way they had.
God's timing was, as usual, on point, and the week after we got back I committed to a Bible study that's been going on at my church for a while - one that I'd been invited to participate in before. They were reading through this amazing little book called He Loves Me, and I took it with me to vacation numero two. (Yes, this is the beach one!)
Vacation numero two was very different in that it took place at an island house instead of a campsite in Wisconsin, that it took a lot longer to get there, and that I was surrounded by a really different group of people. While my mom's sister and her family, who we were staying with, are fantastic people (forreal, they're funny, both intelligent and knowledgeable, caring, have really cute kids and cook well . . I KNOW) they don't have a relationship with Jesus. I wasn't surrounded by fifty + constant reminders of God's love, and it really tested my new commitment to reckless, Christlike love.
The house we stayed at was about five blocks away from the beach, and every morning, most and every family member would make the trek to the ocean for some form of exercise. For my part, I ran before spreading out a towel withing ten yards of the crashing waves and reading the new book from my new Bible study group. The book, titled He Loves Me, shares the freedom of pursuing a relationship with God and attempts to explain his infinite love. Every day, as I sat on the beach and listened to the waves and let the wind tug my hair, I'd read this book and pray for God to reveal his love to me.
Well, guess what? He did. About halfway through the week, the book decided to tell me that God's love was constant. It said, "And since God's love is constant, you can live as one who is loved a ridiculous amount every day, regardless of what you've done or haven't to deserve it." (That's just a rough paraphrase. Please don't sue me for misquoting your book.) It made sense in my head, but I had trouble with internalizing, with accepting that truth and making it a part of me. And then I heard the ocean.
I've never felt especially close to God through nature. Some people do, and that's cool, but I just don't. That day was an exception, though, because obviously God can except things if he wants to. I listened to the ocean waves climbing the beach and falling back, climbing and falling, climbing and falling. I realized that God loves me like that. He's just there, loving as an action all the time, and I can't stop his unfathomable delight in me any more than I can slow the ocean's rhythm. That was the first lesson.
The second lesson came when I opened my eyes and re-noticed that the ocean is ginormous. My thoughts wandered to the fact that that ocean could probably swallow whatever it pleased, whenever, and then God helped them out and they wandered to the fact that his love was like the ocean in that way, too. It is so wide and deep that the stuff I worry about on a regular basis is completely insignificant in comparison. God's love can crash down over overwhelming situations and uncertainty and sadness and pull them away from me in a current that won't let up. Easily, and without hesitation. God loves me like that.
Moral of the story? If you'll recall, I couldn't figure out where to get the strength to love recklessly. That'd be God, and his ocean expanse of resources just waiting to pour into me and overflow to the lives of anyone it could. His love is constant like the waves and huge like the depths, and, most importantly, he longs to share it with me. That's the craziest part. At the very least, what God gives is plenty for one human girl to love recklessly on for a good long while. I can love recklessly, no matter who I'm around or what's going on inside or outside me, as long as I live in the reality that God's love is like an ocean.
And that is all I have for today.