I went for a run on the beach this morning. God gave a gift and held off the rain. It was glorious to see the dawn’s brushed sky with strokes of pink and grey and blue hues. The wind was cool upon my face, reprieve from the thick shoreline air. Birds scampered across the sand, one seagull balancing on one leg, looking like an odd acrobat. When he noticed me coming, he quickly put his other leg on the ground, but after I passed him and looked back, there he was at it again, practicing his circus tricks.
Why do people come to the shore? What is it that we all long for as we go to and fro upon the land, groping for freedom, traveling to find water’s rest? I think people do come for freedom- to look upon the expanse of the skies, how the blue air kisses the sea’s far reaching waves, the horizon blending the two as they become one vast picture of hope. Something’s out there…something we cannot see or grasp, but we can look as far as possible and feel the enormity of promise, the eternity of hope.
I think I come to hear the voice of God. To drown out the voices of the world and to just listen. As I ran and saw the morning sun rising higher and higher, lifting its head to light our day, I could hear the crash of wave after wave after wave. Something so calming about the repetitiveness, the knowledge that the next wave will come, the faith in the design and pattern of it all. His voice of faithfulness and sheer goodness speaking in those waves.
I think I come for healing. To see the vastness of it all, the sea so deep and far and wide and the great unknown…I can know that my God catches my every tear and can wash each one in His huge, foaming waves. He can swallow up my pain in the grand story of His plan, soaking the cares of my heart in His ocean of faith and hope and healing into a beautiful testimony of grace.
I think I come for stillness. To set aside the tedium and tasks of life, and embrace a moment of just calm. My eyes can catch a glimpse of the Lord’s glory as the infinite beauty abounds in every grain of sand, every salty drop of water, every bird in the sky or crab on the land. To be on the edge of land, leaving the worries of life miles back, and dip my toes in the beginning of adventure and wonder and promise…having no idea what all is truly out there in those waves, but my life becoming humbly smaller in the grand view of this incredible scene.
Something saddened me in all of this, though. I was not the only runner on the beach this morning. I passed others, smiled, and ran. But what broke my heart was realizing that one of the reasons people come is to escape…Maybe I come to escape, too. Yet, instead of escaping into the presence of God, running toward His love and acceptance and purpose, so many end up escaping from it…they drown out the sound of the ocean, the whisper of His love, with iPods playing and heads tuned into the monotony of music, choosing that to drown out their thoughts, their experience, over the chance to commune with the Living God. How could anyone choose the voice of human noise over the voice of God? Why is it we drown in a culture of endless, clanging sounds, and forget that there is the most beautiful orchestra of peace awaiting us, if we only would listen? 
Yes, we live in a world of pain where we long to escape. Thousands upon thousands every year flock to the summertime shore to do just that, but they leave missing the most incredible chance to have truly escaped into wonder, beauty, and hope. The ocean is a place of listening, of healing, of stillness…if we would only realize that God wants to speak to us through those waves, pour the salt of joy over our wounds, and invite us to be in His calm, warm presence.