At the End of It All

"Teach us to number our days
that we might get a heart of wisdom."
~ Psalm 90:12

At the end of July, for part of the week,  Lydia and I along with Esther and her 4 children went to the beach.  The Oregon coast is lovely and I happen to have friends who own a place in Seaside, OR.  These are the most gracious people I know.  They have offered their place to us at any time as a place of respite and relaxation.  This is what we did.

We went down on a Wednesday and the weather was the best.  The kind that is picture perfect with sun shining and warm sand to surround your feet.  It is a particular delight to watch my grandchildren dig and run and jump and get absolutely covered in sand to where you would think that most of the beach ends up in their shorts.

I do have to admit that I'm not so much of a beachy person.  I struggle with the feeling of salty skin and sandy toes.  But it was so worth it to be with those I love and watch their enjoyment.  It's like the tension of life just slips away with the wind that comes off of the ocean.  What I do find amazement in is the sheer majesty of the ocean and waves coming and going.  Such power and beauty all together in the roar of the tide.  It is astounding and fearful all at the same time.

There has always been a fear of the power of the ocean for me.  I have marveled at the beauty from a distance.  I'm afraid that I have taught this to my children telling them never, no never turn your back on the ocean.  Hopefully they aren't scarred but have a healthy regard for the power of the surf.  There isn't many remembrances of going to the ocean as a child.  In talking with my mother this week she mentioned that she was never a beachy person either.  We just always did the camping thing in the mountains with lakes and ski boats.  But I digress ~

A number of my children love the ocean/beach thing.  And, of course, it is beautiful.  Quite unlike anything else.  We, I suppose, tend to take it for granted as it is in such close proximity to where we live.  But there are others who travel long distances to experience the Oregon coast and the town of Seaside in particular.

In true Pacific NW style it rained on the next day (Thursday).  This wasn't a gully washer just some drizzle.  So when the others decided to go to the beach I decided to stay behind and have a power nap (this is what I call them as it sounds so much more impressive).  After waking up I gathered my things and headed down to the beach.  It it only a few blocks walk, no driving needed.  It wasn't cold, just a bit overcast with clouds and, of course, windy.

There was no expectation to see what was next or to witness for the next hour or so the drama that was happening.  As I plunked my folding lawn chair into the sand I could see farther to my right a line of people in the surf holding hands.  There were Search and Rescue vehicles with lights flashing and a jet ski in the surf.  Then the Coast Guard showed up in their helicopter going back and forth close to the shore line and finally dropping a swimmer into the water.

It turned out to be a vacation from hell for one family who lost a son that day.  As we watched the rescue efforts from a distance we couldn't help feel the anxiety and sorrow.  Trying to hold the tears in check while at the same time praying for a miracle.   One afternoon and all was changed for this family.  It was supposed to be a happy time at the beach, carefree with no worries.  Instead tragedy came with it's friends called heartache and despair.

We never know what tomorrow will bring.  Oh, we make plans and have goals but that can change in a moment.  For all the things that we think we have control over the reality is this: we really don't have much control over anything.  Most of our comings and goings belong to the Master of the universe, the God who is all wise, all knowing, and so much more.  We have only been given a certain number of days.  No one can add to it or take away from it.  No matter how hard we try to cheat death, it will come.  This is the hard reality of being human.

Life is precious.  Each day brings new mercies that I don't think I fully comprehend.  What we live for determines the quality of our lives.  Fame and fortune can be nice but at the end of it all is it enough?  Goals are good but once achieved, what then?  At the end of our lives what do you want said about you?  When this mortal body ceases to breathe what is your hope?

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die." (John 11:25).  The Savior conquered death when he rose from the grave.  If we put our trust in the Christ we can ultimately triumph over death.  There is hope beyond the grave.

"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"
I Corinthians 15:55

Might I encourage you to think about the end of your life.  On that last day when you have that one last breath what will be your hope?  Living a good life will not be enough and no one can say that they have lived a perfect life.  I take that back.  There is One who has and He lived it for you.  So on that very last day of your life can you say, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

There is an eternity coming.  Where do you hope to be?  

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 15:57