I promise, I was not hired by anyone from the Pure Michigan campaign to write the words that will follow. But, I must confess, I am in love with our lake. It’s true. Though I’ve seen the rest of this amazing country and have fallen in love with the views and vistas in dozens of other states, I’m a summertime, Michigan girl through and through.
I simply cannot imagine living anywhere that I could not take a five minute drive and be at my beach. Christian knows this about me. He puts up with my obsession with my beach and even occasionally joins me there. But, he cannot keep up with my need to bask in the sun and swim in the waves, and looks at me a bit strangely once in a while.
One of my dearest childhood friends lived on Lake Michigan and we spent an awful lot of time together in our growing up years. Much of that time was in the water. When my kids were little, there was nowhere easier to take them for a day of fun. We all tend to be a bit fish-like so to this day, we are at the lake several times a week.
Today, was a sunny day, so to live up to my goal to be at the lake every single sunny day since the water hit 68 degrees, I jumped in the car after all my work was done and took off by myself to my beach. All I bring is a towel and my keys and license. When I arrive, I’m alone and no one is even in sight as far as I can see in either direction on the beach. I set up my towel in my spot and blissfully lay in the sun until I’m nice and toasty and then go for a swim.
Today was apparently Ladies’ Day at the beach as two other nice women found their own spot and enjoyed their beach time as well. One was the reading type. She set up her pink umbrella and parked her little chair underneath and read to the sound of the water and seagulls.
The other was more like me. Bring on the crispy, brown skin and occasionally take a dip. No book necessary.
Beach etiquette is a funny thing. There is an unspoken rule, at least at our beach, that you pretty much don’t need to make conversation with anyone. Or eye contact. Everyone just does that thing, kinda like at restaurants, where you are in a public place pretending you’re all alone. Of course, you are looking to see what other people are doing, but you can be sly about it. Like, you pretend your sleeping, and you just peek out from under your eyelashes to see if what they are up to. No need to say hello. Everyone is just content to be in their own happy little beach bubble. One time, I broke etiquette by complimenting a lady on what a nice mom she was. It was awkward. She really looked at me like, “Are you really talking to me at the beach?”
So, today, the ladies and I, we just made ourselves happy and pretended we were all alone.
Let me just tell you, there is nowhere that I am more content than underwater in Lake Michigan. Well, swimming underwater (just to clarify). There is nothing like the underwater world with nothing to hear but the muted sound of water, and everything you see is blurred and beautiful. No one else can interfere or interrupt.
Today, the water was so calm and warm that I just laid on the top of it and back floated for as long as was possible. The sun kept me warm, the water was crystal clear and I just laid back and felt peace.
Here is where I know my Creator best, in the midst of His Creation. I laid there on the water, and thought about how it felt like being in His arms. That place where everything else can be a total mess, but I can just lie back and know peace. I totally trust that I’m safe.
No matter how heavy my heart may be, I still float.
As I laid there I thought about how much being in the water is like my relationship with God. There were definitely times I didn’t feel like getting all the way in.
I laugh at my Kyrsten when we go to the beach together because when the water is cold, she tends to dive right in. I tend to take my sweet time and work up my courage. She is constantly saying, “Mom, go all the way in! You’ll feel better once you’re all the way in!”
You really can’t fully experience swimming in the lake if you’re not willing to get all the way in. And you can’t really experience what God is like if all you’re willing to do is get your toes wet.
And, you can’t really experience what my Lake Michigan is like from a picture. You might think it’s lovely looking and may want to visit it someday.
Or, you might see a picture of the lake when it’s stormy or hear a story someone told of its rip currents and the lives that are lost. From this, you may decide it’s not worth your time.
But, if you get all the way in…if you totally surrender and experience it firsthand on a warm, summer day, you will be changed. You may not want to leave!
That’s what it like with God, too. You may have seen a good representation of Him in the the kindness of a stranger. Or there could have been something done in His name that looked dark and not at all appealing.
Or maybe a some “wave” came your way in your life, and knocked your legs out from underneath you, and you decided that if God would allow that, you don’t need anything to do with Him.
I know that I would hate to have people try to get to know me from what other people had to say about me. And, I sure wouldn’t like it if someone decided they didn’t want to get to know me at all based on someone else’s opinion or representation of me.
And, I could spend all day getting mad at that wave that got me all wet or realize that wave was part of something bigger than I’ll ever understand.
There is nothing like the moment when you realize that His love is like an ocean just waiting to refresh and carry you, even when your heart feels heavy–like it could never float again.
I’ve learned to surrender. Just like I learned to back float. At some point, you just have to do it. You can’t surrender a little bit. You either do or don’t. At some point, it’s just about letting go of what you know, maybe taking a chance even though it goes against what feels natural, and trusting in something bigger than yourself. You were, after all, made to float.
There is a goodness available–a sweetness that only comes from letting go. A peace you can only know when you get all the way in. When you walk up to LOVE and look it full in the face, the only real option is to dive in headfirst.
Kyrsten’s favorite song when she was a baby…(seems appropriate)