Nothing comes closer to the feeling of hitting a reset button than a long walk on the beach. It clears my mind and allows me to relax, to think, and to reflect on life. I love the beach for many reasons but, chiefly, it is an immediate reminder that what I think I understand, and what I think I have some control over, is completely dwarfed by the enormity of the world that is beyond my control.
It’s quite ironic that the realization of being out of control would be so comforting. How could a sense of helplessness be soothing? How could weakness and vulnerability offer peace? Perhaps knowing that I’m not in control provides the correct mindset to understand that someone else is.
When I’m at the end of what I can see and touch, it seems that I can begin to see the sovereignty of God. The collision of that which I know and the vastness of that which I can only begin to comprehend provide a physical reminder of a spiritual reality.
Most of our lives, we pretend and even fool ourselves into thinking that we have control. To be sure, we do make choices and certainly should be responsible for our actions and decisions but the only thing we really control are our choices. Other people, world events, random circumstances, even the weather impact processes and outcomes so significantly that rarely do things turn out just as we planned. The consistent pattern in which our own plans fail ought to provide ample reminder that we’re not in control, but yet still we pretend.
Perhaps it is this self-imposed illusion (delusion?) that causes so much stress. Paul reminds us of the truth: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). Did you catch that? When we concede our thoughts of control (i.e., “don’t worry about anything”), then we can see God clearly to approach Him in prayer and petition and He responds with the provision of peace in Christ Jesus.
While on the beach, Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John and perhaps others to “follow me” (Matt 4:18-22). Imagine how many miles the disciples must have walked with Jesus over the next few years. He didn’t let them get comfortable. They learned, over time, that they were not in control. Time and time again He took them out of their comfort zone. In fact, it was as they came to a point of desperation and hopelessness, hiding from authorities, unsure of what to do, that the risen Lord appeared with peace, a commission, and promise of true power through the filling of the Holy Spirit (John 20; Acts 1).
What about you? The physical locale isn’t the point; it’s the position of the heart that matters. The principle here is that we are to get past our misperceptions of control, which, in a nutshell is idolatry, and submit our lives afresh to the Lordship of our Sovereign God. He is in control and He loves us. Now, that’s comforting!