Have you ever found yourself
at some jagged edge
where earth yawns out into ocean?
In the wake of its frightening beauty
you are breathless.
Dash and fizz of waves against rock,
mangled seaweed tossed in foam,
briny sting of air, you can just taste.
Dizzy, you stand at its great mouth.
The earth is on its toes
tottering at the edge of the deep.
(From, Maineland, by Caitelen Schneeberger)
Though I haven’t physically stood at a coastline like this in years, I still sometimes feel like I’m teetering on the edge of one, struggling to keep my balance. I know I stand on firm ground, yet it’s hard not to be thrown off by busyness, work, family drama, sickness, worrying about tomorrow, etc. Like the tumultuous depths of the sea, God’s ways are unfathomable. His will is good, yet in the midst of trials, doesn’t it often feel like we’re flopping chaotically and without purpose in a raging sea?
If you’re standing at that coastline, and you raise your gaze toward the horizon, everything suddenly looks calm. A smooth, even line separates the sky from the sea. You can still hear the fierce rush of everything at your feet, but if you stop trying to follow the chaos of it and focus on the ground beneath you and the still skyline in the distance, it becomes more of a cathartic experience.
I practice yoga now and again for the physical benefits of relaxation, flexibility, and balance, and I’ve learned as I practice that when attempting to hold a balance pose, you must find an unmoving spot on the floor or wall to fix your gaze. If you keep looking down at your feet, or at what your arms are doing, or worse, at someone else who is struggling to find her balance as well, you are bound to lose focus and fall.
When we fix our eyes on things that are fleeting and unstable, we will be swept under the waves of doubt, worry, and sin. We will be caught off guard by tragedy, thrown off track by people who let us down, and embittered by circumstances that are out of our control. We need to raise our eyes and fix our gaze on the unmoving LORD. We need to stop trying to completely understand the chaos or change it. We need to stop trying to fight against it.
What is chaos to us, is actually God’s perfectly designed plan, and the more we submit to that, the less thrown off we will be by those trials and the more we will begin to see those things as opportunities for our sanctification and growth.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2)
For “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).