If you read my last post, God + The Trees, you know I am continuing this week talking about seeing God. There are countless stories, but this is part two in a series of 3 that stood out to me.
In the summer of 2016 I was on vacation with my family in Kiawah Island, SC. I absolutely love going to the beach with my family, spending time with one another, playing games, and reading on the beach. This particular year was when I discovered Annie F. Downs, and her book – Looking for Lovely.
This is a wonderful book about looking for God in everyday life, so if that interests you, and you want to know how to do that more, I would highly suggest it. It is hilarious, relatable, and gets you to, well- look for lovely. She does this by posing a simple challenge at the end of each chapter- a simple way to find lovely.
To be honest, I was on vacation. So, the challenges had been hit or miss. In fact, I feel like I should go back through and just do all of the things she suggests, because they are both lovely and life-giving. But this particular day on the beach, the end of the chapter said this:
“Take a walk today. Maybe it’s just around the block, or maybe go to the local mall and take a few laps. While you are walking, look around. What do you see? What is catching your eye? Pray as you walk, asking God to direct your eyes to the things He doesn’t want you to miss.”
– Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
Just when I was about to mail it in, and enjoy the beach from my chair, (I mean the beach is naturally pretty lovely, what more did I need to see?) I felt God nudge me to get up.
So I walked and prayed, God what do you want me to see?
I want you to read what I saw, and dare you to picture it in your head and smile too.
I first noticed all of the families, some playing and some relaxing. I noticed brightly colored cheap beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas that I couldn’t help but smile at even though i’m more of a neutral gal. Kites filled the sky. There was a small girl smiling and proudly helping her mom load towels in a cart to take back inside, doing her job as though she was a top ranking official. A chocolate Labrador giving kisses to whomever wanted one, happily wagging his tail. There was a guy in his young twenties blaring and singing along to Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” he started chair dancing, and his sisters playfully hit him out of embarrassment. There was a lady walking with her headphones in, and I couldn’t help but wonder what she was listening to, because she danced as she walked. There was an older man jogging in bright bright yellow and I admired his health. An older couple followed shortly, at a slower pace, holding hands.
Just as I was ending my walk, coming to my turn around point, I looked out to the ocean. “Man! What color is the ocean even?,” I thought. It’s Blue-Green, but when you look closely- clear, and maybe a little brown from the sand. But when it crests, it’s foamy white. The color of the ocean is a wonder all on it’s own.
I looked to the sky and saw what (to me) looked like hands held out for me. I quietly brushed tears away from my eyes alone down the beach away from my family. I thought of Matthew 11:28.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I was weary. I was dealing with job stuff and inner demons, and a seemingly silly challenge from a book was the last thing I wanted to do. But God gave me what I needed when I needed it.
How often do we pass by the color of the ocean? People laughing? Or Dancing? Or cheap beach towels? There is a whole lot of lovely in this world. We take most of it for granted, but when we stop and pause it will jump out at us. God will open our eyes to it. Let’s Praise him in response.
When I got back to my family and my beach chair, I took out my phone, and made a note of everything I saw. I still pull it out from time to time when I need a smile or a reminder of God’s goodness.
I want you to look for lovely in everything today. And if you need some inspiration, take a walk like Annie suggests. Then make a note, maybe in your phone, but definitely somewhere you won’t lose it and keep it to remember to keep seeking and keep finding God in the every day.