Yesterday was our first day on the beach.
I’m not sure if you know this, but it takes approximately a year and a half to prepare 9 people for a beach day.
My mother in law made sandwiches, I was on bathing suit duty, and Todd and Dan made sure the bikes were rigged up and ready to go.
Eventually we all piled in and started the few-miles-long trek to the ocean.
I was the most excited about Charlotte, because she’s old enough to enjoy it this year and I couldn’t wait to see how she responded to the waves and wet sand.
As we rode, we kept an eye on the sky.
It wasn’t looking ideal.
Still, we pressed on.
As we neared the spot where we park our bikes, a light drizzle started. Nobody acknowledged it, I think in an attempt to pretend it was actually a gorgeous day.
We unloaded, started setting up, and I put Charlotte’s arm floaties on her.
“Charlotte, want to go see the water?”
The rain was picking up, but I didn’t care. I had this in my mind and I was going to imagine it was ideal. She started walking, but after feeling the sand in her toes she lifted her arms to me and said, “Momma hold you.”
I picked her up and walked to where the water had dampened the sand. I set her down again and made a smily face so she would see that this is actually a sensation we pay good money for, so go ahead and get your feet dirty.
She stood for a second and then stepped forward, watching behind her as her feet made little imprints.
“Mommy! Mommy!” Abby and Ellie were running toward us, and in a flash they ran past and tucked themselves in the water.
It wasn’t a light drizzle anymore.
In a matter of seconds, it had turned to a cold, angry rain. It was pelting us, willing us to turn back, and yet we walked.
I lifted my rain-speckled sunglasses away from my eyes, turned my head in the opposite direction of the wind, and laughed at Charlotte so she would see that we thought this was funny, not scary. She smiled too and kept walking.
“Momma hold the hand.” I reached down and grabbed her tiny hand as our toes touched the cold water. It lapped up on her and immediately she turned as if she were going to run back, but curiosity got the better of her and she stayed. So we stood, shin-deep in the waves as the storm dripped down from the heavens.
Hair glued to my face, white sundress soaked over my swimsuit, lips salty from covering my mouth in laughter.
And that’s when it happened.
I turned, just for an instant to see if Todd was coming down the beach, and when I did, I noticed the most peculiar thing.
The beach was full of people. Hundreds of them.
And not a single one moved.
Umbrellas raised, conversations full, and children making sand figures.
And all the while, the bitter rain fell.
In fact, it got worse as I watched them. Occasionally a few would turn their heads from the direction it was blowing, but no towels were packed, no babies bundled.
They were unmoved.
Or so it seemed.
What would make an entire beach full of people brave a thunderstorm on a damp beach? Were they desperate for sunshine, and willing their minds to see it? Just unfeeling?
From your vantage point in this story, you can’t see what we could see.
The clouds, rolling quickly to the left, and just beyond, a patch of the bluest sky imaginable.
We knew it would pass, and in a matter of minutes.
I couldn’t help but think it did look ridiculous. Well, if you didn’t know what was coming, at least.
But we do.
This is temporary.
The news tells us buildings are swimming in fire and children are left alone to die.
The paycheck is just short of covering what we needed it to.
The goodbye lasted longer than our breath could carry us.
We feel the rain, and it is cold.
We thought it would be a beautiful day, but that isn’t always the way it goes here.
And yet, we remain unmoved.
To a watching world, it must seem crazy. I’m not saying I don’t understand. How could all of these people go on? Why not pack up and call it a day? Assume that we had been forsaken?
And here we are, the bride of Christ, facing the storm with a drenched smile.
Because we know what they might not.
And as they watch on, the best we can do is point to the blue sky, crawling closer every moment. We can tell them it will be worth it. It isn’t over.
Hold your breath if you have to.
Shield your face, if ever so slightly.
But don’t you dare move. It’s exquisite just around the corner. Not just a patch of sky, but hope itself.
They say it’s ridiculous, I’m sure.
But from my vantage point, it’s only a matter of time.
There is a definitive line in the sky, where dark cloud kisses white and weather succumbs to grace.
A seam between the ages.
A promise made, intended to be kept.
And always behind the storm, a voice whispers from eternity: It is worth the wait, love.
And so we remain, eyes soaked with tears and rain.
Believing beyond our momentary affliction that all-consuming glory is near.
It is so near, love.
Come, Lord Jesus...quickly…