We were discussing the waves, the beach, and the tides as we took one of our daily early-morning walks, when my Tessa said, "Jesus loves the waves! They're familiar." Ya know, sometimes your child says something and you think How did she come up with that?! Not one of those quirky kids-say-the-darnedest-things. And not even something that she is parroting from a classmate, teacher...or parent. No. Once in a while, one of my children says something that stops me dead in my tracks. Something about the innocence of her stance and the deliberation of her tone tells me I need to take heed. And I did. I have. I have chewed on this one declaration over and over since it came from her sweet lips: Jesus loves the waves! They're familiar.
And you know what? She is absolutely right! Jesus lived and traveled by the sea. Jesus was never nervous on the boat when the storm was present and the waves enormous. He slept while the disciples fretted. And what's more, metaphorically speaking, Jesus came to make waves. He was very familiar with that. He made his parents nervous at the tender age of twelve when he stayed behind at the temple; he said "didn't you know I'd be about my Father's business?"* Jesus overturned the money changer's tables in the synagogue and he overturned their theologies too. He was always about His Father's business! Incidentally, His Father's business was so often about making waves! Familiar? Yes....to Jesus. Predictable or safe? No. Just as we warned our children about those strong waves: you can't trust yourself or your own strength in those waves....even if you think you can.
In our own lives--and with the many waves that come--we can't trust ourselves! We need to put our trust in the One who is familiar with the waves. He can handle them. He allows them. He is the Creator, Author, and Finisher and He alone can handle the waves. He can calm them or He can hold, protect, and remind us gently of His presence while they roll and roar. Although I don't always understand why He chooses to allow some waves in our lives to grow so strong, I'm learning to trust. When the disciples were fearful at sea, in the midst of the storm, they finally called on Jesus. They had Him with them all along. They could have been at peace, while the Prince of Peace was with them...safe with their Savior! But they didn't trust or choose peace. At times, neither do I.
When the waves in my life grow strong, so often I cower in fear and trust in my own knowledge or feelings, rather than lean into the arms of the One who can handle the waves. He loves the waves. As I have contemplated the words of my 5 year old, I think I understand. When the waves get stronger, I need Him more. And when they become fierce--though my soul may be in anguish--I lean on Him like never before. After I come out of the storm and the strong waves, I look back in reflection and realize that those have been the times when I've pressed into Him the closest. I may be fearful alright. I may feel tossed and shaken. I may have desperately cried from deep within. But without the mighty and unpredictable waves--those ones that are familiar to Jesus, I would not cling so strongly to Him.
At first, when she said "Jesus loves the waves!" I felt a bit uncomfortable with that statement. The audacity of it! How can he? How can He love something that shakes and whips me about? How can he love something that creates such desperation within me? But if I'm honest, I get it! He wants us to need Him. He wants us to cling to Him. He doesn't want us to ever get so confident on the waters that we forget to depend on Him....the Creator of the tides. And I'm learning this. Day after day after day. Just when I think I'm capable...He allows the tide to turn. And the tide always turns. I have to learn complete and utter dependence on Him! Sometimes the tide turns in my favor. Sometimes it whips me in a direction I never thought I'd go. Sometimes it wipes me out and flips me upside down, gasping for relief. And at times, the waves are hardly more than ripples. He allows the calm too. That's just it. He is the Creator of the tides. He loves the waves and yes, they are familiar. He knows the end from the beginning. The test is in the middle of the waves. But the answer is always the same. He is familiar with the waves. He alone can allow the tide to turn. He alone can calm the sea.
Father, help me to trust and hold onto you in the midst of the ocean waves of my life. Calm or fierce. Strong or small. Let me cling to You and depend on you alone. You love the waves because they create in me a dependence on You alone. You are my source and my strength. Help me find my rest...riding out life's waves with You.