Imagine my disappointment when, after driving two hours with a certain view in mind, arriving at the north beach, I see storm clouds threatening from the south. Not just any kind, but the type of solid, massive, utter darkness encroaching upon the sea. In Georgia, nine out of ten storms move from south to north. Still, I prayed for the clouds to part, to move a different direction. Afterall, it’s happened before, why not again? “Please, Lord, please don’t let this ruin my sunrise!”
By the time I found a public parking spot, gathered my beach towel, and walked the distance to the shore, it did not look good for me. The smell of impending rain permeated the air more than salt. Very few people were scattered along the sandy stretch. I sat down anyway and played a favorite song through my phone, “Across the Sea” by the Sweeplings. Its words seemed to weave through the years, calling me to this moment.
Follow Me down to the shore We could cast our sails and grab the oars We could float away and not come back Darling, if you just take my hand …Freedom is as far as we can see Darling, if you just come with Me
Rain comes. I sit. Then, harder. “You’ve got to be kidding me Father.” Though tempted to run back for shelter, I didn’t drive two hours to sit in the car. So, I covered my head with my only towel and stayed, shivering soaking wet in my thin, pink, tie-dyed beach shirt over my swimsuit and shorts.
After forty-five minutes of relentless, discouraging gray rains, I didn’t think I could take much more. So, I asked of God, “How long will it last??”
“Do you have to know?” he asked back.
Oh! But we always want to know, don’t we?
Phrases from an old song, “Stand in the Rain” by Superchick, worked their uninvited melody into my thoughts. I listened to the song.
So stand in the rain Stand your ground Stand up when it’s all crashing down You stand through the pain You won’t drown And one day what’s lost can be found You stand in the rain
It’s wet. It’s cold. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t want to be here like this.
But the rain drives all the other people indoors, and something unexpected began to happen. I had the whole beach to myself, rain and all. I stared at the choppy, colorless water in front of me.
Suddenly, dolphins! A whole family of them swam by a few yards offshore! Their dorsal fins bobbing above the water’s surface. Their noses tease my eyes. My own private show. Oh, how I love these sea dancers! A far-off shrimp boat can also be seen. Though blurred by the heavy downpour, it doesn’t deter a persistent flock of birds from hanging all around it. Free food!
After the first hour, the rains slowed to a sprinkle. I decided to start walking. I couldn’t count the miles, but it was three hours before I made it back to my spot. Gift upon gift continued to open before me.
Red rose petals dotted the beach, evidently from some romantic couple the night before, now left for me. I sense a wink from God in my direction as a smile stretched across my face.
Oh, the joy of wet sand beneath my feet and rushing water between my toes as I strolled the foamy edge.
Once I reached the pier, below it, hundreds, then thousands of fish swim by. Gasping at the wonder, I hoped to see a few jump from the water. To top that wish, about 75-100 leapt through the surface at once! Then, a second time! Leaving me utterly astonished.
I continued walking, all the way past the jetties ‘til I could walk no more due to obstructing terrain.
Mesmerized by the constant, breaking surf amidst the rocks, God reminded me of the words spoken by Beth Moore at a Living Proof Live Conference I had attended a couple weeks prior: “Not far from all that’s ugly, God is doing something stunningly beautiful.”
Betrayal is ugly. Aloofness by those who were meant to care for you is abandoning. Trauma is isolating. Lies that dig their tentacles long and deep are hard to shake from your beliefs. It would seem appropriate to think that a lifetime of vivid sunrises on never-ending repeat is what you need. Dark, torrential rains sound ugly.
I more than envisioned a glorious sunrise, I just I knew it was what my heart needed to close the heavy weekend. I never thought how it would crowd the beach with people. God fathered me through heavy rains that cleared the path for a private walk with Him, sprinkled with personal gifts. Winks of His love for me and proof that he sees me in the dark, hears me, knows me, and comes for me, right there. The one-on-one intimacy I longed for was found in the rain (dolphins and roses are two of my favorites things).
Sovereign is a big word, but it can be explained simply of God. He knows His child, and He knows what you and I will need to heal. We want to hurry it up, get it over with. But it’s the long walk with Him through unexpected weather that provides the intimacy and wholeness we long for. Who, but God, knew massive gray clouds could provide something as equally impressive as the brilliant colors of an early morning sun?
Be brave, my friend. Be honest with your thoughts to God. And stand in the rain. He is there with you.