Earlier this month, Sandy and I spent a couple of relaxing days at Cape May, N.J., where the houses are Victorian, the breezes are fresh, and the beaches are wide. The only downer was the vicious cold I developed just in time for our little getaway. But even that couldn’t take away from the loveliness of our stay.
Actually, I used to be much more of a “downer” person. My tendency is to be introspective, perfectionist, even negative — and when looking within my own soul, I could catalog 10 thousand reasons why I didn’t measure up. I would stare within and find an awful lot not to like. Ever been there? I lived there.
Fact is, there’s always plenty of defect and stupidity and sin brewing around in our minds and hearts. Our actions, our desires, our thoughts, our words — they never do match up to the perfect standard of God’s . Not even close.
At Cape May, you can walk the wide beaches, and the sand seems almost infinite. Imagine trying to count not merely the smooth little stones that wash up but every grain of sand! But is that why we are there at the shore, to stare down and despair at something so impossible, so beyond our capacity?
No. We are there to look up at an ocean that seems, if possible, even more infinite. It would be folly to ask if there is enough water there for us to swim! Or to collapse hopelessly on the sand and refuse to wash it off in the endless waves.
The beach, when gazed at with a narrow lens, seems overwhelmingly large. But in light of the ocean, it is a speck. And, in fact, our earth, viewed in the backdrop of its Creator, is smaller than that speck. Sin, at times, seems infinite and omnipotent. It is not and cannot be. God alone is.
Yes, our own moral darkness and guilt feels overwhelming. But when we think of Jesus, the Son of God who takes away our sin, we are to look up and away from ourselves and stare into infinite grace. We are to think about sufficiency. Surplus. Generosity. Free-ness. Unlimited-ness. Power that has no end, love that knows no bounds. A merciful ocean of grace that washes up unceasingly on the sands of our brokenness.
Take a walk along the beach with Jesus, even in your own mind. But, primarily, look up at the ocean, not down at your feet. Jesus came to make “downers” dance — even on the sand!