My eyes squint as I make out three silhouettes against a background of shimmering waves. Even from my perch under an over-sized umbrella, the radiance of the sun’s reflection glistening off the rolling sea is breathtaking.
I watch the three figures as they scan the horizon and assess their position on the shore. The smallest of the three boasts a confident swagger in his stature, a frame that is a mere five years old.
He calculates the approaching wave with similar confidence and waits as it presses forward, without a care in the world. Then, at the last possible millisecond before its arrival, he spins on his sand-covered heels and runs in the opposite direction, squealing with victory at the rushing wave’s inability to reach him.
He follows the retreating wave and awaits his next opponent. This time he gets even cheekier, with his back side turned toward the competition, wagging back and forth, teasing and challenging the approaching mass of water.
Again at the last moment, he does a quick mental calculation and jumps into the air to scale the powerful whitecap before it can pummel him down.
Every time we visit the shoreline, the scene is the same.
He taunts the sea.
Does he have any idea what he’s doing? I ask myself each time. Doesn’t he know the One he taunts?
Apparently he has yet to hear the Lord’s interrogation of Job:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
It is easy to survey the scene illustrated above and smile at the joy and squeals that accompany wave-jumping. Sure, all kids do it. It’s fun. Thrilling, in fact.
Yet from the vantage point of my umbrella, I see myself in him. Taunting the sea.
Though I may not strut with quite the same confidence in the face of such a powerful opponent, how often do I pridefully think I can do it all in my own strength? How often do I think I can conquer the waves by myself, by the sheer height of my mad jumping skills? How many times do I think my plan is better than God’s — that my boundary lines for the sea are wiser than His?
Sadly, I do it all the time. I forget that I am nothing in comparison to the One who created sea and sky.
I forget that I am nothing, and I can do nothing, apart from His grace and enabling.
How great is our God.
For the Days When I Need to Be Put Back in My Place