My wife and I recently traveled to Myrtle Beach last month on business / pleasure. I mentioned to my wife and settled on one of the days we were there, I’d taken in the attempt to wake up before sunrise to see the dawn over the Atlantic. Nerd alert, I know. I’ll take it. The wife’s words, “Have fun with that.” Ha! I’m assuming you can determine which one of us is the morning person now. Well, I’m a morning person after coffee and no conversation for the first six hours after waking up. I know you feel me here. So, after annoying my wife with roughly seven alarms on the iPhone, I get dressed and head out…
One of my most favorite moments at the beach before dawn is simply standing there. That’s it, just standing there. It’s pretty amazing how much a person can soak in when everything around them is silent and there are no distractions (Side plug – put your phones down sometimes!) There’s just something about that cool sea air blowing against your face, the sandy remnants of a yesterday high tide below your feet, flocks of seagulls soaring above in search for their next meal, couples walking the shore holding hands and an entire world waking up to a new day. It’s a very calm moment. It’s therapeutic. It’s peaceful. It’s a hushed sense of wonderment of how amazing our Heavenly Father really is.
As I started to walk along the sandy beach, the gleam of first light began to impinge on the horizon. I glanced downwards at the sandy shore below my feet and saw the temporary nature of the footprints from individuals who had walked before me. Some left deep intentions while others just showed up on the surface… but no matter what, they were entirely washed away when a large wave came. With each crash of a wave and when the murky ocean waters receded, it was as if footprints were never there and were permanently erased. This started out to remind me of the never-ending and unconditional grace of Jesus. No matter how tainted our past is, no matter what we’ve done, no matter how many sins we’ve all seemed to stack up in our lives, and no matter how deep we go into it – God’s grace is always greater, always stronger, and always much bigger. Wow! Just think about that. Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short of the marvelous grace that He continually seems to give – but at some moment in our lives, we have to begin to allow God’s never-ending waves of grace to cover our mess ups, our screw ups, our mistakes, our downfalls, our shortcomings, and our guilt. Once we do that, forgiveness, healing, and peace can come to the stage. Can I tell you that the only thing that can fill the indention of that footprint and wash it away is Jesus. A business, a person, money, traveling to remote places, your mom, a social status, popularity, a political affiliation or whatever else you want to throw in the pot here. None of those can fill the void. None of these will ever be able to fill the gaps in our lives.
After expending a good hour or so on the beach, I resolved to take up all my camera equipment and make my path back to the car. Walking along the coastline with the sunlight to my rear, I noted another thing about the ocean that has always captivated me – the deep, dark, rolling waves, which are so vast and mighty. Behind me was a sun piercing its way through clouds and rising above a skyline. In front of me in the distance was very dark and crashing ocean waves. Creepy? Maybe. I’m just going to be honest here for a minute. I don’t swim in the ocean. I simply don’t. I may go knee-deep or put my feet in, but I don’t get away to where I can’t see the underside of the ocean surface. Ever seen JAWS? (Cue JAWS entrance music…) Sharknado? Okay, maybe not Sharknado. But, yeah. That’s a big heck to the no. You won’t find me casually swimming in the ocean. Not now or ever. You can’t see what’s below and when you’re below, the only thing you can see – is murky darkness. But you know what – even though the deep, murky waters can be very frightening, it can also be very calm (the water, not JAWS – JAWS and calm do not belong in the same sentence).
By looking at the horizon, I could not see what lurked about down under the crashing waves nor did I want to know what lurked below the surface. There is a calmness to the depths they reach. Even underneath the surface of those waves, there is a calm. Deep waters, so deep that even the sun can’t reach down to the bed of the sea floor. This was instantly brought to my attention and I started to consider how amazing God’s grace and love is. You’re probably asking yourself, “how in the world does this remind you of that? JAWS and anything under the surface of the sea does not remind me of Jesus, at all. Please tell me how dark and deep waters remind you of this?”
Well, let me ask you one question – What is the absolute worst sin you think you might have committed? What’s the worst thing you’ve done in your past?
I’m sure you, me and anyone can think of one, ten and a million maybe. Did you think of something? Now did you know that even that sin you thought of just now or “not even the worst sins…” (Rom 8:38) cannot separate you from the love or grace of God? They just can’t. That means absolutely NOTHING, at all, can keep you away from His love or grace. Even at the bottom where you may think sunlight cannot reach, God’s love can reach there. When God says he forgives us, He is saying, “I’ve sent all of your wrongs, mistakes, shortcomings, sins far, far away from me.”
Psalm 103, it reads:
“God is sheer mercy and grace;
Not easily angered, He’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
Nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as the sins deserve,
Not pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
So strong is His love to those who fear Him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
He has separated us from our sins.”
Wow! That about sums it all up right there. No matter how tainted our past is and no matter how many sins we’ve all seemed to stack up in our lives – God’s grace is always greater! Jesus is and will always be a far greater Savior than you are a sinner. The greatness of His love reaches farther, dives deeper and soars higher than every single shortcoming we face, every sin we commit and every failure we come across!
Where is the furthest place you’ve traveled? God has sent your sins farther…
Where’s the furthest place you can think? God sends the thought of your sins farther away than that.