Traffic

JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL. Being back in Atlanta traffic after an absence is a culture shock for me. In 48 hours I have received a hellfire-and-brimstone, full-immersion baptism of cars slamming on brakes, tires screeching, angry commuters, speedy lead-foots, impatient workers running late…it is a ‘fully-woke’ nightmare. Then add road construction to the mix, and you will change your mind about going anywhere and decide to just sit in your back yard and stare at the trees.

Culture responds to traffic, which controls the daily flow of life. In just two days, I have experienced people altering their lives to accommodate it. One hurries through a task because she needs to “beat the traffic”. Another can’t come until rush hour is over. Plans are made around which roads will be congested, stop-and-go, or overcrowded at certain hours. And by all means, avoid the parking lot known as 400 North unless you happen to be traveling at 3AM. Then it’s only a slow crawl.

The reason that traffic is so egregious is because people become egregious once they get behind the wheel. Everyone feels entitled to be first in line. People push to be first in the lane as you merge onto the highway. Cars zip and zoom around others so they can pass and get in front. Every day you can watch drivers switching lanes without warning like it’s the Indy 500.

Think of it! If everyone would just be content to stay in their lane, wait their turn, and God forbid, even let someone else go first, traffic would be tolerable and accidents would be greatly reduced. But instead, we cut one another off and risk causing an accident just to get one car-length ahead.

James 4 The Message (MSG)

Get Serious

4 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.

It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

Humility is the act of letting others go first. Humility is the practice of putting someone else’s need ahead of your own. The willing humble wave people in, slow down, look out for others, and give way. Humility is not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.

Where are you pushing when you should be stepping back? Who needs to be waved into your lane while you slow down and allow it? Where are you acting like a spoiled child, wanting first place at the expense of the other travelers in your life? Are you driving your life like the willful proud, determined to get your own way at any cost, or the willing humble, reflecting the image of Christ in what you say and do?

God gives grace to the willing humble. So slow down. Be gracious. Let somebody in. Show generosity. And please don’t cut someone off today…especially if you have an ichthus on your car.

Colington Harbor traffic jam at Sailing School.

Sleepless in ATL

It is amazing what the human body can endure. The record for consecutive nights without sleep is 11 days. Research tells us that it only takes about 3 to 4 days without sleep before you start to hallucinate. I am on 2 days of no sleep and I can tell you that the mental abilities (which were weak to begin with!) are beginning to wane. That is my disclaimer for any grammatical errors or typos in what is to fallow. I mean follow.

After 9/11, I had insomnia for four months. I suppose many people did, and as a pilot’s wife, the images that kept me awake were not the falling buildings, but the planes that flew into them. Since my honeymoon, I have had awful nightmares of falling planes. I suppose that goes with my territory. Insomnia made me think I was going to lose my mind. I could barely function by day. I would sit in a chair in the living room in the middle of the night and try to pray or read, and no relief came. Finally, God delivered me.

The Psalms were written as songs to be sung along the journey. They communicated faith. They told the story of hope in the community. They became an oral history of a people, and that includes us. Best of all, they unite us in a chorus of voices that are unified in one singular purpose: to sing praises and encourage each other that God does indeed deliver us.

Today I sing this Psalm in praise of what God has created. I sing in praise of his wonderful works. I sing with praise to our Maker, and I invite you to sing this with me:

Psalm 119

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when I awake, I am still with you.

What does it mean to you that YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made? What is God saying to you? In the midst of your despair, do you know that all of his works, which includes YOU, are wonderful? Even in our lowest points of zero self-esteem, no self confidence, feeling beaten down and unworthy, God lifts us up as precious.

“When I awake, I am still with you.” Praise be to God, for those of us who remain awake through long nights. God is with us.

Praise be to God!

Photo by Cheryl Lynne Smith.

Hurry Up and Wait

The saying goes that “good things come to those who wait”. I remember a time in the Navy when that saying was replaced with “hurry up and wait.” Going to the Exchange? Hurry up. Then wait. Seeing a doc at the base clinic? Hurry up. Be on time for your appointment. Then wait. The deployment is almost over; hurry up! Then wait.

There are many times in everyone’s life when hurry up and wait comes in to play: college applications are due by a certain date. HURRY UP and fill them out! Then wait to see if you got in. Cancer tests are scheduled for this day; hurry up! Then wait for weeks for the results. Babies come when they want to. Pre-labor beings! Hurry up! Then wait.

Waiting is hard. Waiting is wearisome. Waiting slap tires you OUT.

The people of Israel were promised a Messiah. The messiah would come to rule his kingdom on earth. He would take away their sins and would save them. Under his reign, justice would flow like the waters, and there would be peace on earth. But they were beginning to get tired of waiting:

Isaiah 40 (NIV)

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint,

    and strengthens the powerless.

30 Even youths will faint and be weary,

    and the young will fall exhausted;

31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

    they shall walk and not faint.

And so Israel hurried up. And waited. Centuries passed from the time of Isaiah to the advent of Jesus Christ. And then they had waited so long, many didn’t recognize him as the messiah. But some did. Perhaps they were the ones who waited with open anticipation. As you wait, are you open to receiving God’s answer in a completely different way than you are expecting? Jesus was not what was expected, but good things came to those who waited for him.

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. Why? Because God does not faint or grow weary. God gives power to the faint. He strengthens the powerless. But you….you will mount up with wings like eagles if you choose to wait for the Lord.

The challenge is to spend your time in the “waiting room” wisely. What else can you be doing while you wait? Can you be immersed in the word? Shoring up failing relationships? Actively spreading hope to others who are also waiting? Witnessing to God’s presence in the waiting room? Waiting rooms can be places that bear just as much fruit as delivery rooms if we keep our eyes open while we wait.

I am in hurry-up-and-wait-mode as I write this. A grandchild is coming, and he is coming at his own pace. While we wait upon the Lord to deliver, we gain strength in knowing that God never grows weary. And so we take this time in our waiting room to grow in our love of God, of family, of faith, and in confidence that in every hurry-up and every slow-down moment, God is with us.

And I just can’t wait to see what he does.

Photo by Michelle Robertson.

Dauntless Resolution

The carving reads, “ACHIEVED BY DAUNTLESS RESOLUTION.” It is on the west face of the beautiful Wright Brothers Memorial, which stands on a high place overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Albemarle Sound. Erected in 1927, the sixty-foot gray granite memorial is situated upon a ninety-foot hill in Kill Devil Hills. The full carving on the memorial states: “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith,” Spreading wings decorate the memorial and depict a large bird taking flight.

My running partner and I had looped the bottom of the monument four times and climbed it once. We decided to climb one last time before we went home, and we were SPENT. As in, call the EMTs, we-may-need-CPR-spent. I actually checked with her as we were climbing to make sure her CPR certification was up to date. As we trudged up this hill, exchanging moans and complaints, we looked up and saw her:

She wasn’t complaining. She wasn’t moaning. She was persevering.

James 1 (NIV)

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

This beautiful, double-caned hiker is our inspiration. There are just some times when you have to push through, keep climbing, and NEVER GIVE UP.

When your rebellious teenager is caught with drugs at a party, don’t give up.

When chemo has completely kicked your backside and you are exhausted, don’t give up.

When your spouse refuses to acknowledge the alcohol addiction that is damaging your family, don’t give up.

When you get fired for things completely outside of your control, don’t give up.

When life comes at you with hurricane force winds and your roof blows up, don’t give up.

When brain tumors, infidelity, bankruptcy, scandal, divorce, and any manner of evil blocks your climb, don’t give up.

Romans 5 New International Version (NIV)

Peace and Hope

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Perseverance. Pushing forward. Developing character. Receiving God’s hope. That is what this lady was doing up the hill to the monument, and that’s what many of you do every day.

So to the ones who are struggling today…the cancer survivors and fighters, the women in the Georgia prison, the moms and dads who lose sleep over their kids at night, the addicts and their families, to all of us…keep climbing. Your crown of life awaits, and God is with you all the way.

Never give up.

Dauntless resolution.

Discernment

Proverbs 18:15 (NIV)

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

So few words, yet such a profound teaching!

Discernment is that elusive thing that we all seek. It is the process of being able to gain wisdom, direction and spiritual guidance from several sources. Scripture reading, prayer, and conversations with fellow seekers are usually the best places for discerning something.

Discernment allows us to grasp and obtain knowledge or insight that helps us in our daily living. Whenever we are in a planning, contemplating, preparing, or envisioning phase of life, discernment is that God-connector that helps us tap into HIS perspective on the matter and make it our own.

When I was discerning my call to ministry, it took a full two years to realize it in its fullest. A single remark by a former pastor was all it took to begin the process, and much scripture reading and prayer (mostly in the form of “you’ve GOT to be kidding”) brought me closer. But it was the comments of others that finally brought me to that AHA moment of clarity.

Lack of discernment leads us down very wrong paths. I have seen firsthand what a lack of discernment can do to a family trying to raise teenagers, to marriages, and to ministries that haven’t been thought out. A colleague and I just had a good laugh at a rather rash conclusion I had come to last year and was just proved totally wrong. Looking back on it, I had based my conclusion on a few external criteria rather than spend some time in proper discernment. God obviously had a better plan!

I love how this proverb connects the heart to the discerning process. Surely it is a matter of using the heart rather than the mind to increase your perception on an issue. Some call it our “sixth sense,” and the lovely thing about it is that discernment allows us to access the higher powers of God, who already knows the right thing to do.

The challenge for us is to WAIT. This truly is a “wait upon the Lord” situation. Words spoken in haste and anger, decisions made without proper and thorough contemplation, and assumptions made without investigation will thwart the methodical discernment process.

Isaiah 40:31 The Message (MSG)

27-31 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,

    or, whine, Israel, saying,

“God has lost track of me.

    He doesn’t care what happens to me”?

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.

    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.

He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.

    And he knows everything, inside and out.

He energizes those who get tired,

    gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,

    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,

They run and don’t get tired,

    they walk and don’t lag behind.

Indeed, God doesn’t come and go! God LASTS. Those who wait upon him get fresh strength, real answers, proper direction, and they spread their wings and soar like eagles. So if you are trying to figure something out today, pray, read, talk, and most of all, WAIT.

Sunrise Fishermen by Michelle Robertson.

Get Out of Jail Free

I once paid my sister $300 in Monopoly dollars for a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. The unfair and soul-crushing irony of that is that you can pay a $200 fine to the Community Bank to get out of jail. But being the youngest player at the table, I did not know that and was CONNED into paying for a free card. This is the plight of every youngest child in the family. Being the youngest was no stroll down Boardwalk, I’ll tell you!

There are ladies in a jail in Georgia who are part of our community here At Water’s Edge. A friend of mine visits them frequently and is able to use a special email system to send these devotionals to women she has met there. There are several beautiful things in that sentence:

1. A faithful servant visits women in jail. Just like Jesus instructed.

2. The jail provides a means of contact so that she can continue to care for them between visits.

3. These sisters in Christ are being exposed to the word of God.

In the book of Acts, we discover the incredible journeys of Paul, which include sailing, ship wrecks, preaching to large crowds, conversions, healings, and imprisonment. Paul spent years in prison awaiting trial. He was finally released after using his position as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar. While in jail, Paul continued his ministry by sharing the Gospel with his fellow inmates and guards.

In jail lingo, that is known as “doing good time.” I did jail ministry for five years when I lived in Georgia, and every week I would encourage my inmates to “do good time.” Time would be spent there one way or another. The choice to make it good time was always theirs. With nose to the grindstone, good time resulted in getting a GED or a college degree, staying fit, immersing themselves in the Word, and making amends with their families and friends. Good time often resulted in good results and being released earlier for good behavior. It was a price they could pay to improve their circumstances.

What none of us can pay for, however, is the ultimate “Get Out of Jail Free” card offered through the grace of God. Everyone is imprisoned by sin, and only Jesus Christ can pay that bail:

Ephesians 2 New International Version (NIV)

Made Alive in Christ

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Everyone reading this today is in some form of prison. Some are confined by metal bars and concrete cinder blocks. Some by abuse. Some by life-threatening habits they refuse to give up. Some by obsessions. Some by poor choices. Some by years of anger and resentment. Some by unhealthy relationships.

But Christ died that we all might be free, and the gift of grace is the key that unlocks the prison door. Where is Jesus offering you a personalized “Get Out of Jail Free” card today? What is he calling you to change so that you might experience true freedom and live the life he has prepared for you to live?

The choice to make this time on earth “good time” is yours. We are saved by grace and were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Choose life!

“Free Like a Bird,” by Michelle Robertson.

Soul Wellness

Tension and stress take a toll on the soul. Extreme tension and extreme stress take an extreme toll on the soul. We are designed by God to be people of peace, but inside and outside forces are constantly bombarding us in ways that are disruptive, harmful and sometimes fatal. Every person who lives on the East Coast anywhere from the Bahamas to Canada knows this after Hurricane Dorian surged through.

But go back a second. Do you realize you are designed to be a person of peace? What does that mean to you?

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom (שׁלום) is derived from a root denoting wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity. Its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, meaning perfection, and carries with it the implication of permanence.

From the very beginning of life in the Garden of Eden, we were created to enjoy shalom. Adam and Eve had every thing they needed. They had each other. They had beauty, sustenance, things that delight, and most of all, they had a relationship with God, walking with him every day in a place of perfection. They were perfectly at peace until disobedience in the form of an apple entered the story.

I think that connection is a strong one. Is your lack of peace a result of your disobedience? Is God calling and directing you to do something that you are resisting?

I have a lovely friend who was resisting God’s call to peace with a relative who is especially challenging. You met her in my devotional, “I’d Rather Cut Off My Arm.” She realized that God was urging her to “pray for her enemy” as a visit with this person approached, and so she did. The result was wonderful: God brought her into a place of peace as she was able to resist responding to her relative’s outbursts and craziness, and they had a good visit. Her peace was even able to bring peace to the relative, and a change in demeanor was the result. It was her obedience to the call to pray that brought her this shalom.

Where is your lack of peace connected to your lack of obedience? Are you consuming things you are being told not to touch? What is your “apple?” Drugs, alcohol, affairs, inappropriate movies and books, anger, bitterness, resentment, grudge-holding…taking a bite out of these things surely will destroy your peace.

Jesus came to restore shalom. Through the forgiveness of apple-eating, he brings peace back:

Isaiah 9:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

6 For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given,

    and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the greatness of his government and peace

    there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

    and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

    with justice and righteousness

    from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

    will accomplish this.

We weren’t meant to live in strife. We were made by our creator to be people of peace. Take this message today, and lean on it. Learn from it. Root out the source of your stress, and throw that rotten apple away.

Isaiah 26:3-4 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

3 The Lord gives perfect peace

    to those whose faith is firm.

4 So always trust the Lord

because he is forever our mighty rock.

Shalom, y’all!

Photo by Allison Brown.

Social Media Hurts

Cyber bullying. Decreased sleep. Decreased exercise. Anxiety. Depression. Extreme self-consciousness. Obsession with the number of likes and comments. Low self-esteem.

These are some of the effects of social media use. According to a recent study, social media is hurting our young people, especially girls. A recent study in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Journal involved interviews with almost 10,000 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16. The researchers found that social media may harm girls’ mental health by increasing their exposure to bullying, and reducing their sleep and exercise. For boys, the impact on mental health seems to be due to other reasons, so further research is needed, the authors said. Scrolling through social media apps at bedtime was highlighted as particularly harmful to both genders.

This is very scary. If you have a teenager in your life, I bet you have seen this firsthand.

Thousands and thousands of years ago, “social media” came in different forms. Words have been destructive since the beginning of time, whether they come from a verbal exchange, a written source, or through the internet. People much wiser than I have cautioned about the hurtfulness of words, and have encouraged us to “guard our hearts” against such damage:

Proverbs 4 (The Message)

Learn It by Heart

20-22  Dear friend, listen well to my words;

    tune your ears to my voice.

Keep my message in plain view at all times.

    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live;

    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;

    that’s where life starts.

Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;

    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.

Keep your eyes straight ahead;

    ignore all sideshow distractions.

Watch your step,

    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.

Look neither right nor left;

    leave evil in the dust.

Keep vigilant watch over your heart. Avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. If that doesn’t sound like WhatsApp, Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, and the rest, I don’t know what does.

I think social media hurts ALL of us. I say that with the full realization that I can only access you all through social media. Like everything else on this earth, social media can be used for good or for evil. For example, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for hurricane relief in less than 48 hours through social media. It is a viable and extremely effective way for GOOD words to be shared among God’s people.

But the temptation to compare our lives with the polished and photoshopped happy-family portrayals we are exposed to is not a good thing at any age. And anything that takes our eyes off of God for prolonged periods of each day cannot be spiritually healthy.

God invites us to keep our eyes on HIS message. Those who discover God’s words LIVE, “and really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health.”

Where will you spend time today? Will you turn to the ancient scrolls of God’s word and bury your heart there, or will you continue to bury your head and keep scrolling through junk?

The choice is yours every day. Choose well.

Photo by Michelle Robertson.

Huddled Together, Butts to the Wind

In case you thought this was going to be about my running partners and me….it’s not.

The Outer Banks is known for our herd of wild horses who have lived here for over 500 years. Located mainly on the northern beaches, these beauties have been here from the time of the first settlers. Thought to be the progeny of the original horses that swam ashore from shipwrecked sailing vessels, the mighty mustangs have survived in conditions of sparse vegetation, high winds, encroaching civilization, cars strikes, and even hurricanes.

Some have asked this week if the horses get evacuated, and the answer is no. Instead, the colonial Spanish mustang herd will likely ride out the winds and rain as their ancestors did before them — in huddles, “butts to the wind,” according to obxtoday.com

“They have an institutional knowledge of where it’s high, dry and safe,” said Meg Puckett, herd manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. “It’s one of the few times we see a lot of the different harems come together.”

Kinda like people. Storm prep is a time for the islanders to come together and look out for each other. I received several offers from younger folks in our community who wanted to help our elderly church members. When I checked on them to see if they needed help, the answer was always the same: our neighbors have already taken care of everything. Huddled together, butts to the wind, God delivers us through the hands and sweat equity of the compassionate ones who huddle with us:

Isaiah 49 (The Message)

8 God also says:

“When the time’s ripe, I answer you.

    When victory’s due, I help you.

I form you and use you

    to reconnect the people with me,

To put the land in order,

    to resettle families on the ruined properties.

I tell prisoners, ‘Come on out. You’re free!’

    and those huddled in fear, ‘It’s all right. It’s safe now.’

There’ll be foodstands along all the roads,

    picnics on all the hills—

Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty,

    shade from the sun, shelter from the wind,

For the Compassionate One guides them,

    takes them to the best springs.

I’ll make all my mountains into roads,

    turn them into a superhighway.

Look: These coming from far countries,

    and those, out of the north,

These streaming in from the west,

    and those from all the way down the Nile!”

Heavens, raise the roof! Earth, wake the dead!

    Mountains, send up cheers!

God has comforted his people.

    He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people.”

This passage really speaks to me today, as hurricane Dorian will hit us full force tomorrow and we are under a mandatory evacuation order. I see our beautiful community already fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that there will be people who will help resettle families on the ruined properties. Others will provide food for the hungry and drink for the thirsty ones who will flood back from “out of the North” and “streaming in from the West” when the order is lifted. (Did you notice that? We evacuate mainly to the north and the west. God’s word is amazing!) For those who stay, neighbors are already offering shade from the sun and shelter from the wind. That’s who we are here. That’s what we do. The Compassionate One guides us to protect one another, provide for each other, and huddle together.

So we stand together, butts to the wind, and say to Dorian, “Bring. It. On.” With God’s help, we will help each other and come through this storm just like we have all the others. We may be beaten-up and beaten-down for a moment, but joy comes in the morning. Thanks be to God!

Photo by Michelle Robertson.

Dune Grass

Sand dunes grow. They are a complex, living infrastructure of sand, water, vegetation, and wind. Along the Outer Banks, the dunes protect the inner parts of the island from the encroaching seas. We boast of having the largest sand dune on the East Coast here in Nags Head, called Jockey’s Ridge. This massive, moving dune is so big, it has swallowed up a mini-golf course in its eastward trajectory.

The Outer Banks has recently undergone extensive beach nourishment along our coastline. Erosion, seas and winds have threatened our beaches for decades, and so our towns have responded with a nourishment program that effectively extended the beach by pumping off-shore sand onto the shoreline.

The Baby Dune effort then began in hopes of stabilizing the protective dunes. Baby dunes are intentionally planted with vegetation such as sea oats, hearty grasses, and dense patches of dune mats that take root and hold the dune together. If the vegetation is damaged, the dune will fail, the water will breach, and roads and homes are affected.

The most threatening thing to baby dune growth is people. People ignore the “Keep Off” signs and walk over the dune rather than go a few hundred yards away to a groomed beach access. Beach goers, not wind, are the biggest threat to the stability of this fragile ecosystem.

Colossians 2 (The Message)

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You have received Christ Jesus, the Master. Now LIVE him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start LIVING it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

This passage talks about taking root in Christ. One of the interesting things about the dune grasses and vegetation mats is that their roots aren’t exceptionally deep, but they spread over the top of the dune and provide anchoring to the top layer of sand. Their extensive system of creeping underground stems keeps the dune intact in the winds.

Much in the same way, rooting ourselves in Christ protects our lives and keeps us intact when the winds of change begin to blow hard. In the midst of adversities, when in the blink of an eye something changes, those matted, secure roots of faith, fellowship, meditation, prayer, worship, and scripture reading can provide resistance.

A friend suddenly lost her mother last week. The death was unexpected and has caught the family terribly off guard. As she is slowly negotiating her new reality, it is her roots in Christ and the interconnected family around her that is keeping her together right now. Another friend is struggling with her spouse’s addiction. The vegetation mat of hope, help, and knowing she is not alone is keeping her strong in her storm.

I don’t know what kind of figurative or literal (!) hurricane you are going through this morning, but hear this: you are meant to just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You are meant to receive all that Christ died to give you. You are well constructed on him, and no wind of change, no matter how strong, is going to blow you over. Now do what you’ve been taught! Stay strong, stand firm, and let your living spill over into thanksgiving, even in the storm. God’s got you…and he will never let go.

Photo by Kathy Schumacher.