June 24, 2005 Newsletter
Summer! Finally, it's fun in the sun time.
Back when we were suffering through all those soggy Spring
days, I thought it would never come. I realize I
probably haven't been paying that much attention down
through the years, but this past Spring certainly seems the
coolest and wettest I can recall. So I'm very thankful
for the scorching heat. I love it. And even
though I'm using my vacation time this year for humanitarian
missions, I know many of you will make your annual
pilgrimage to a place that's also near and dear to my heart
. . . the beach! Here's a piece I wrote there a while
back that, hopefully, will remind you of what matters most,
not only on vacation trips to the beach but every day of our
lives. Enjoy, and have a wonderfully refreshing summer
A Gift from the Sea
By: Rhonda Jones
I found a perfect seashell on the beach today. It was of
the oliva sayana variety - a "lettered olive". Looking
somewhat like a tightly wrapped cocoon, the beautiful
cream-colored folds wrap into a perfect point. Perfect.
Walking on the beach this afternoon, like I have everyday, I
glanced down and there it was tumbling in the surf. Finding
it was quite a surprise, because the North Myrtle Beach
strand is not known for shelling. In fact, most of the
shells littering the beach are mere fragments of
garden-variety shells crushed in the surf long before human
eyes ever see them. It was indeed the discovery of a
treasure. And, before I knew it, I was scouring the
shoreline for another. I walked along for several minutes
more, my head down, eyes transfixed on the broken shards in
the sand, straining to find another treasure, imagining
every time the sun glinted on something that I had found it.
Then, almost as quickly as I had stumbled upon the perfect
seashell, an even more perfect realization occurred to me.
I had walked for several hundred feet with my face stuck in
the sand. I hadn’t even noticed the ocean or seen the gulls
and large pelicans fishing for their afternoon meal. I
hadn’t watched the children playing in the surf and the
shrimp boats in the distance returning from a long, fruitful
day of fishing. I hadn’t appreciated how beautifully the
setting sun glistened across the high tide, and I hadn’t
looked into the smiling faces of all God’s children enjoying
the day at the beach basking in His glory. I had not seen
any of that, and now the opportunity had passed, because I
had my head buried in the sand.
It was then that I realized how alluring the pursuit of
treasure can be - how mesmerizing it has been at various
times in my lifetime. I looked up to find countless others,
streaming up and down the beach toward me, heads down, eyes
on the sand, not seeing where they’d been…where they
were…where they were going. I watched one woman stoop to
pick up something. It was just a sliver of a broken sand
dollar! It wasn’t a treasure at all, only a poor
substitute, yet the woman stuffed it into her sack and
continued what now seemed to me a futile search.
As I watched the beachcombers continuing to file down the
beach, I noticed a man and woman approaching. They
looked like the couples with whom I'm accustomed in the
business world where I spend most of my time. The
woman was obviously his dutiful wife. She looked
refined, motherly, conservatively coifed, and well-heeled,
obviously the perfect housewife, mother, and hostess
material to support the busy business executive. He
looked every bit that part. Perfect
top of the line golfing attire, recently purchased college
alma mater sun visor, and the most telling adornment of all
. . . the cell phone attached to his ear. Despite his
unmistakable businesslike appearance, I noticed he looked
like a fish out of water . . . striding - almost racing -
down the beach pretending to be on vacation, conducting
business all the while. I recognized that fašade
immediately. He thinks he's fooling everyone. I
thought. The only person he's fooling is himself.
His wife wore a visible look of disgust and frustration, and
as they approached me she apparently had reached the end of
her rope. Like the collapsing of a dam, the words
burst forth from her lips and crashed like the approaching
tide upon everyone within earshot. "Can't you get off
that phone?! We're on vacation!" The wife
admonished, saying the "v" word with great emphasis in an
attempt to crack the seemingly impenetrable barrier.
Her husband never even so much as darted his eyes in her
direction . . . never missed a beat in his conversation.
I watched as he strode confidently past me, totally
oblivious to his suffering mate who had now sank back into
her expressionless, numb, empty path behind him.
My newfound awareness left me aghast. I wanted to
shout out to all the poor beachcombers shuffling mindlessly
behind one another in the surf. Wake up! Lift your heads!
Open your eyes! What in the world are you doing?
Can't you see that this is your one life? Can't you
see that you're wasting it on poor substitutes for happiness
and fulfillment? For God's sake, and your sake and
your families sake, wake up, and stop this madness before
it's too late! The words screamed in my head.
Then, suddenly, a new realization washed over me, and it
made me shiver despite the warm sun beating down on my
shoulders. Had I not only moments earlier been stuck
in that rut with them . . . shuffling in line behind them?
Had I not succumbed to the allure of earthly treasure? Why,
when I had received the blessing of finding the one perfect
shell, had I immediately become so driven to find another
and another? Why did I always need more? Why could I
not be satisfied? I stood convicted there in the surf,
staring into the distant horizon, silently asking the
question . . . why . . . listening. And then the
answer floated by softly in the salty air.
"That's the weakness of the flesh. You want so
much, but you actually need so little. Be thankful
for My blessings." I heard God say in the gentle breeze
blowing across the surf. “I will provide you with all you
need. You don’t have to search aimlessly, clamoring over
your brothers and sisters to find your blessings. Don’t
worry. You're not alone. I'm here. I will
provide. Just keep your head up, your face turned toward
the sun. Enjoy where you are . . . each moment. That’s
part of the blessing.”
Thus, I heard God speaking to my heart. And I did indeed
give thanks for all my blessings, as I walked confidently
into the setting sun . . . this time not searching but
satisfied and with my head held high.