Life is Lived By a Seashore
The sea seems to draw us to itself; sandy beaches, palm trees, warm sun, especially if one lives in the Artic, as I do.  I have spent many years on various seas and oceans, and in my travels have relished the times I spent in beachcombing, collecting shells, and turning my face toward the breezes and inhaling that wonderful smell of salt air.  The roar of the waves smoothed my very soul, conjuring up imaginations of tall-masted sailing vessels heaving their way across the horizons of centuries past. 
The tides come and go on nature's time-table; forever faithfully lapping the shorelines day in and day always. Yet, as we all know, this same setting can become one of horror in a moment of time.  Predictable as the tides, also unpredictable are the shifting of underwater "plates" and sudden weather changes.  There is no port on any continent that does not have its list of ships that never returned home; of crews that never lived to sail again. 
Life is also like a seashore, in that we have periods of tranquility and beautiful hours of peace and calm.  Yet that same idyllic scene can suddenly frighten us with the storms and raging waves that come unexpectedly out of nowhere.  We run for shelter.  That seashore has demonstrated its ability to deceive; luring us with what we thought was our heart's desire, then slapping us in the face with an angry display of absolute mockery of our human frailty.
Such was the testimony of a Christian woman in Malaysia recently.  She and her sister had long saved up the money for a holiday vacation to a beautiful beach, a respite from the daily grind.  She found herself remembering a little chorus she had learned in church and began to sing it as they walk along the lovely, peaceful paths:
Ironically, little did they know that within twenty-four hours they were to join the thousands suddenly overpowered by the tsunami which happened recently. Caught inside a hotel, with water to their necks, they held on for dear life praying, and at the same time giving others the Words of Life that would save their souls should they all perish.  Bruised and bleeding, God miraculously delivered them from that horrible tragedy.  She later wrote in her testimony:
"I hated the sea then. I never thought such a beautiful and peaceful place can turn out to be so ugly, so fierce, and so merciless. I was angry at the sea..."
All of us can recall people we have known who were so charming, so loving--yet when the plates beneath their ocean floor began to rub against each other, their true nature was revealed, and we can never see them again in the same way.
Places we once lived,--thinking we might want to spend the rest of our lives there, no longer attract us because of some unpleasant experience.
Goals we made for ourselves and expended so much time and money toward that end, suddenly seem irrelevant and trivial because of empty rewards that gave us no joy.
Yet perhaps there is a far greater lesson to be learned in all of this; When we can see these experiences in life as gifts from  a loving God, we come to appreciate every pain and trial and embrace even the thoughts of more to come.  Only those living in the Secret Place of the Most High can see it that way.  Whether our "beach"  is the joys of a trouble-free life that bites us with a diagnosis of cancer, or promises of commitment that turned into a failed marriage, we learn that a faithful Father above is watchful over us and will never let us suffer more than we can endure.  He will make a way of escape to those who put their trust in Him.
Life is truly like the can be beautiful, but also deadly and destructive.  We must never think otherwise and live as though this earth and the things in this earth are all we live for, for surely the waves will come to overwhelm us when we least expect it and show us that there is terrible evil in this world.  And it will return again and again in one form or another. 
Angry at the seas in your life?  That bitterness must give way to joy that the Lord is always there to take you through your trial and restore our souls as we walk through those valleys of death, for He is truly with us.
This truth was brought home to me years ago when I reached a point of despair unlike any I had ever known.  As my husband lay in ICU I was jolted with the news from his doctor that he had died during the night, but they had been able to re-start his heartbeat. 
How could this be happening?  One day you are so perfectly happy and content--everything could not be better (or so you thought), and then suddenly the unexpected shatters it all into a million pieces and you look around you in total shock!  Ironically, just the day before this occurred God had supernaturally spoken to my husband.  We had been praying about a decision we had to make.  Should we stay in Alaska, or move elsewhere?  And as he left work one evening, a bright light appeared and a voice spoke to him; "Stay here in Alaska.  You will see great and mighty things which I will do in this place!"  WE HAD HEARD FROM GOD!
But now complete confusion--and despair!
I ran out of the hospital, for tears were beginning to pour out my eyes and I knew I needed to be alone.  Entering my car in the parking lot, I sat there sobbing.  This was NOT a "great and might thing!"  What was God doing to allow this to happen? 
In a few moments the Lord spoke to me.  "You sing a little chorus in church called "The Joy of the Lord is My Strength".  Why aren't you singing it now?" He said. 
How incredulous that God would ask such a question!  I answered back: "Because I DON'T FEEL LIKE IT!" 
"Sing it anyway," was His response.
"NO!  I cannot sing it!" I said.
Again: "Sing it anyway."
I argued again, my tears dripping off my face and my hands gripping the steering wheel.  "I cannot!" I said.
"Sing it anyway."
Was I going crazy?  This was absurd, to sing such a song in a time like this.  And yet, God chose the foolish things to confound the wise--it was totally in line with His Word.
And so I began...(with no real heart and with extreme reluctance):
"The joy of the Lord is my strength.
 The joy of the Lord is my strength..
 The joy of the Lord is my strength, the joy of the Lord is my strength.
 He gives me Living Water that I thirst no more
 He gives me Living Water that I thirst no more
 He gives me Living Water that I thirst no more
 The joy of the Lord is my strength."
Suddenly, I felt the Spirit of the Lord move on my distress.  I began to sing louder and louder until the song lifted me out of a pit of despair and if anyone saw me in that little car in the parking lot of that hospital, they would have thought I was crazy, for rapturous joy had replaced it all!  I drove home in complete victory!
The next day I returned to the hospital, there was good news...the doctors had determined that my husband had some heart problems, but that he was well enough to be dismissed--but he was not to work for six weeks and he was not to drive the car in the meantime. 
Six weeks?  That news somehow did not disturb my spirit, I knew God was aware of all our circumstances; we had just retired from the military service and God had told us to stay in Alaska, and despite this physical setback, we were in His hands.  So I drove the car home with my husband by my side...God would make a way.  That night we lay in bed together and prayed.  With five kids and no work, we needed a miracle.
I awoke the next morning and the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me.  "Take you husband and drive downtown to Anchorage."  So we both got into the car and started driving.  I did not know where God was taking us, he had merely said to go....I knew less about Anchorage.  But as we were driving down a street He spoke again: "Stop the car here, and you get out and go across the street into that building."  I looked, and there was a sign that read "Alaska Employment Agency".  GOD MUST HAVE A JOB FOR ME! I thought to myself.  And as I walked across the street he again spoke: "When you go through the door you will see a large table with a book on it.  It is already opened to the place you must look."  I obeyed--and there was the table and the book.  I looked inside.  On the left page was a job description for a keypunch operator.  I HAD THAT SKILL!    Then on the opposite side was a job description for a STOCK CONTROL SUPERVISOR---BOB HAD THAT JOB WHEN HE WAS IN THE MILITARY!  I could not believe this!  So I copied down the job numbers and went inside to a receptionist.  She informed me that both jobs were with ITT and I should take her referral slips and go immediately.  So I went outside to the car and told my husband about this miracle as we drove to ITT.  When we got there, I handed the receptionist the referrals.  She looked at me and then asked this question,"Have you eaten your lunch yet?"  "No," was my reply.  "Then go eat your lunch and come back--you are hired.  We need you right away!"  I was shocked--I didn't even have an interview, and now I had a job!"  She looked at my husband.  "Sir, the job you are applying for is supervisory.  There are several applicants, and we will have to let you know.  But you could go and take a physical in the meantime.  Here--go see this doctor this afternoon." 
We looked at one another---he had just been released from the hospital!  How could he pass a physical?  But saying nothing, I went to lunch and Bob went to see the doctor (despite the orders not to drive). 
When he picked me up from work, we drove home.  Bob then told me the news: the doctor said she could not pass him--"he was an insurance risk for the company." 
That night we prayed again as we held hands together.  "Father God, we thank you for my job.  And we also thank you for Bob's job.  If this job is what you have for him, then we praise you.  If it is not, then we praise you that you have something better in mind." 
The next day I went back to work.  When I returned home, Bob had a rather sheepish grin on his face.  "The doctor called me back.  She said she couldn't sleep last night thinking over my case, and that she had changed her mind.  She was passing me!"
Well, Bob got that job--out of all the other applicants.  And we worked together at ITT for a year until Bob was accepted by the Alaska State Troopers and I could return home as mother and housewife!
As our tsunami survivor wrote:
...especially when we least "feel like doing it."