We weren’t alone. Pale-skinned tourists in floppy sunhats scoured the beach for shells. Children played tag with the waves. Older tweens and teens, their hands and legs breaded with sand, carried pails of mud for sandcastles and sculptures, and gathered shells and driftwood for ornamentation. Lovers of all ages strolled hand in hand, eyes only for one another.
The beach itself is lined with condos, ten or more stories of glittering glass, reflecting the sun, balconies furnished with umbrella-ed tables and cushioned chairs and potted plants of the sort than can tolerate the sun, the heat, and the salt spray that constantly drifts over the narrow spit of land between the surf and the sound.
“Wonder what one of those costs?” we often ask, telling ourselves we would never tire of the view and the calming rhythm of waves pounding the shore again and again and again.
But guess what? Before long we’d had enough and we piled back into the car for the five minute drive back to the apartment. The first time we visited, we walked on the beach three times in three days, but soon it was down to one almost obligatory visit, and this past visit? We didn’t go a single time.
It’s easy to get used to things. When we moved to Illinois for two years, I saw snow for the time in my 21 years of life. Guess who was out playing in it, digging tunnels through eave-high drifts, throwing snowballs with mittened hands, and building snowmen? All of our neighbors stayed inside where it was warm, peering through their blinds at the crazy people from Florida.
A few weeks ago a YouTube video went viral. It pictured something not often seen these days—a young man helping a poor, elderly woman check out in a grocery line one item at a time because she was not sure she had enough money, and doing it with patience, respect, and kindness. Isn’t it sad that something like that has become so rare that, just like a landlubber at the beach or a Floridian in the snow, everyone stops in their tracks to look?
And isn’t it sad that some Christians need the example that young man set? Giving courtesy and respect where it is deserved and even where it isn’t, yielding our rights, speaking with kindness, accounting others the right to make the same mistakes we do without incurring our wrath, and realizing that not everyone operates on OUR timetables—THAT should be so common among us that no one gives it a second thought and certainly wouldn’t take a video of our actions as something rare—even behind a steering wheel. Instead, we pat ourselves on the back for doing these things once every now and then.
We should be like the waves incessantly breaking on this world with mercy, grace, and kindness, whether the shore is rough and rocky or flat and smooth. No one ever questions whether the next wave will come. It rolls in again and again, over and over and over without a break in the rhythm, so regularly that no one stops to say, “Look! Here comes another wave.” If it didn’t come, it wouldn’t be a wave.
Are you a wave, or just an occasional splash?
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1Pet 2:12