Our tradition the past several years is to celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday at the beach in November. It’s a great time, good rates, not crowded, and usually warm enough still to enjoy. We stay at a place right on the beach with an indoor water park so if the weather isn’t the best we still have plenty to do. There is a Starbucks in the lobby for mama (insert praise hands here!) It has become a fun tradition we really enjoy as a family. Last year we were able to have a most extraordinary time because a horseback riding fundraiser on the beach was happening right in front of our condo. The finish line to a 20 mile ride was right in front of us so we got to see hundreds and hundreds of horses and riders finish their ride and even got to meet some of them and MK (our horse lover) got to sit on one. We had no idea that would be happening while we were there, it was such a wonderful surprise and gift from the Lord!
This year was a little different…. this was our view when we got there.
This is what is called a Beach Renourishment Project. A large barge out in the ocean sucks up sand from the ocean floor and pumps it into pipes that run on the beach and then down the length of the beach, building the beach back up. They move the pipes slowly down the beach, extending and reconnecting and pumping sand in one spot for about three days then move down a little further and so on.
When we arrived they were almost to our condo, which caused our beach entrance to be closed the second day we were there. Oh those first thoughts that popped into my head. “This is so ugly. This is not the view we payed for. Why didn’t someone tell us from management? The whole point of staying on the beach is to be able to walk out to the beach. The construction noise at night will keep us all up. This will ruin Sophie’s birthday.” Man, typing this out sure is hard. Because I see how selfish and spoiled it sounds and now you all do too. I didn’t speak all of these words but I thought them. And my daughter could gauge the temperature I was giving off. She cried when she saw the bulldozers and huge rusty pipes. So I knew my attitude had to change so that hers would change as well. So I decided to make the best of the situation and stay positive. My husband is so good at this. I am so thankful that he can turn any frown upside down 🙂
Isn’t it sweet how the Lord can so quickly give us a little nudge in that right direction as well, instead of leaving us in a place of discontent. My thoughts changed to gratitude. Many people can’t even afford a vacation at all, so I am thankful we were there. We have a nice 4 bedroom condo, with a view of the ocean, albeit construction filled beach, but we still have the sights and sounds of the ocean. We were not one of the families devastated by the recent hurricanes. We have much to be thankful for. We are celebrating another year of life for my precious gift of a daughter. My husband is able to get off work for this trip, which means he has a job. That is something to be thankful for. Some family and friends came with us so we have family and friends, that is something to be grateful for! We can walk the extra bit down the street to get to a beach entry point, which means we have legs and are healthy, that is something to be grateful for! Every single thing I could think of to complain about can be replaced with something instead to be thankful for. And those are just the temporal things. God didn’t stop there!!
He began to show me this work, this construction, as what He was doing in my heart. Not to be too symbolic here but glory be, wasn’t this such a picture of His sanctifying work in our lives?!?! This seemingly ugly construction site had a purpose. To restore and renourish what the storms had taken away. Can I get an amen??!! The construction site of my heart so many times doesn’t feel pretty, it’s not something I want to look at. I can focus on the yuck that is being stirred up, but there is a purpose. Any time I sin, there is loss. There is something missing that should be there. Many times it takes a storm or trial to show me that. But then there is the restoration once I turn towards repentance and away from the sin.
Not all trials are the result of God wanting to show us our sin. Trials teach us perseverance which leads to hope! There are times that trials give me perspective I need because it points me to that hope and draws me closer to that hope and that hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:3-5) If I would have just looked a few feet above the mess I was focusing on, this is what I would have seen…
Above those rusty pipes, there is still the majesty and splendor and glory of God. He is always there, never changing, and THAT is the perspective I need. Look up!! Too many times I can focus on my yuck, instead of focusing on Him. I am learning that so deeply in this season. Jesus has covered my sin and given me His righteousness. Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account. Romans 4:7-8. I don’t think I will ever stop being amazed and just overwhelmed by that. I can look to Him, follow Him, and trust Him as He cleans out my heart by showing me His. But I must keep looking to Him; His example, His love, His pattern of ministry, His work, His Word, His righteousness and His glory. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7.
Can I tell you that by the end of the trip we were kind of enjoying the construction site on the beach. It’s not every day you get to see something like that. The pipes were huge and they made little sand bridges over them once they opened up our part of the beach again so we had to walk over them to get to the water. One night we went down to the beach and had a dance party in the dark, under the moon, beside a big rusty pipe with sand and sea shells and water pumping through it. It was one of my favorite memories of the trip. Dancing with my girls, not caring who saw us and feeling the freedom of a life lived with a purpose beyond the earthly concerns of this world. (Dancing in the Dark from the movie Home and Jordan Feliz’s River were two great beach dance party songs by the way) Here we are dancing in the dark…
When we pray Psalm 139:23-24 we better mean it, because God will do it surely. Search me O God and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
After my initial bad attitude and wanting to change the construction I can look back on that trip now as an extraordinary time, just like last year, because the goodness of the Lord was all over it. “Here Holly, let me deliver to you a larger than life metaphor of the sanctifying work I am doing in your heart by giving you a construction site you are going to want to complain about, thus needing the sanctifying work I am doing in your heart.” Ouch. He is so kind. He is so patient. And sometimes He is just smack dab right in front of my face with something so I’ll “get” it.
Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore me to the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12.
The 2018 Myrtle Beach Renourishment Project didn’t just happen on the Grand Strand, it happened in my heart as well. Thank you Lord for the surpassing riches of your grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus!