The cool waters of the shoreline keep lapping at my ankles, and I sink deeper into the spiky sand with the pull of each outgoing wave. Remaining upright becomes an art, with the sea tugging at my footing and the horizon tugging at my eyes and heart.
Swelling beyond the last reaches of land, beyond dark shoal islands, and beyond the faintly blinking ships, float and crest only more waves and more water. Where sea meets sky I cannot tell. The ocean seems to go on forever, reaching into and becoming a part of the hazy blue sky. “For thy mercy is magnified even to the heavens: and thy truth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 56:11)
On this warm evening, salty air whips through dune grass, propelling bits of sand like darts through the air as sea gulls sound in protest. Their caws are the last material thing anchoring my mind to earth. Mystery melds with material creation, belaying understanding; while pondering the magnitude of this huge body of water before me, the mystery of God’s mercy towards sinners pulls my mind deeper with each new wave of thought.
God Does Not Consume Us
Here is a sea so vast and so powerful that it could surge and consume all life before it that walks upon land; yet it only meets the shoreline with the gentlest of waves. Ever caressing, never ceasing, wave after wave, rough sand is lifted up, sifted and sorted, and returned to lie smooth. “Yet in thy very many mercies, thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them: because thou art a merciful and gracious God.” (Nehemiah 9:31) Not because our sins are not as great as the sands, but because God is God, he does not consume us; he is merciful.
“Will you not then fear me, saith the Lord: and will you not repent at my presence? I have set the sand a bound for the sea, an everlasting ordinance, which it shall not pass over: and the waves thereof shall toss themselves, and shall not prevail: they shall swell, and shall not pass over it.” (Jeremiah 5:22)
If God, who is all deserving of our love, treats so mercifully of sinners as to set boundaries preventing their destruction, who are we to lash out at others? Who are we to spill over the bounds of charity in our anger or swollen fury or pharisaical self righteousness?
Where Ocean Meets Sky
In our interactions with others, we should at all times endeavor to represent the vast ocean of God’s mercy. Just as God deals with us by his repeated waves of graciousness, so should we be towards our fellow man. Holding no grudges, retaining no debts, and without judgment, we should swell to meet our fellow man where he stands at the edge, uncertain.
Let our actions in our daily lives be an ever caressing balm of comfort to those whose lives may be weary and battered, living on the edge where sand and water collide. With gentleness and patience, we should calm and smoothe his anxieties, reassuring him that God forgives a multitude of sins and desires all men should draw near to Him. Let the truth in our words be the pulling of our neighbors minds and hearts ever more towards an understanding of His forgiveness.
May we help them remain upright should their eyes gaze towards that edge where ocean meets sky, where sin meets forgiveness; and may they find that our mercies mirror those of God — magnified to the heavens. “And God gave to Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart as the sand that is on the sea shore.” (1 Kings 4:29)