For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:22-25
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Summertime has always been a season for growth me. The structure of the school year falls behind and routines change just enough to allow a new rhythm to set in. Growing up, summers were filled with new thoughts and writing. I would spend many days at the beach—scenery that would teach me about the Lord and about myself. I would write for hours on end, wrestling with thoughts and filling journals, one after the other. Today, I am so thankful for those long, hot days. Summertime looks a little different as a mom to a busy toddler, but I am finding that it is still a season of deep growth. The moments of writing are few and far between and my heart a little bit more “on edge.” Motherhood has heightened my senses and given me renewed appreciation for quiet moments of thought and growth.
On an vacation with my extended family, the house is filled with activity and napping babies. It is almost impossible to slip away by myself. But I fought for it one day this summer. After I got Will down for his nap, I passed off the monitor and hit the beach by myself. I started walking south, towards my favorite spot on the island. What bliss. As I walked, I had a chance to talk to the Lord and listen. More than any other conversation with any other person, I desperately needed time with Him. I desperately needed to be heard—and even more to be taught. For 31 years the most significant conversations and realizations with the Lord have happened on this beach, on these walks.
As I walked and talked to the Lord, I was struck by the number of broken thoughts that surfaced in my mind—heartache in many forms. As I prayed through each and every one my heart grew heavy and discouraged. So much hurt. So much ache. So much desperate need. I walked until people were far behind me. Facing the ocean, I was overwhelmed by the LIFE rolling before me. I kept thinking of Romans 8—how creation groans for His triumphant return. I felt the same way. I groaned for the Lord. I cried out to the Lord.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:22-25)
As I stood there, I was struck by how beauty can exist in a world that is so broken. In the midst of broken there is LIFE beginning and thriving. All around me, creation shouts a song of life. Birds flying overhead or scurrying near the lingering shoreline. The ocean—mighty and teeming with life—ebbs and flows. Ebbs and flows. Wave after wave, I am overwhelmed by the Lord’s constancy. Like the ocean, He never fades or slows. He endures. He renews. Oh the faithfulness and love of Jesus in the mighty ocean! It is vast, unmeasured, boundless and free. It is all consuming and beautiful. As my heart ached, it was finding hope.
Our culture today is in a crisis of understanding the value and beauty of life at every single phase. As I notice the brokenness our nation faces today—as well as the powerful hope that is stemming from the “Stand for Life” movement—I am struck by how personal it feels. This past summer, our little family experienced a miscarriage. Within a few weeks’ time, I had the privilege of photographing multiple newborns—including the delivery of a dear friend’s son—and witnessing a beautiful story of adoption. Life stands next to loss. What a beautiful reminder of the redemptive nature of our loving Father! Life continues and thrives even though there is heartache and loss. At times, this is a hard pill to swallow. Yet even more, it is the Gospel playing out in our broken and needy world, and it fills me with tremendous hope.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Are you tempted to feel like the thief is winning? Perhaps the state of our world leads you down a road of despair and hopelessness. That’s exactly why Jesus came—that we may have LIFE and have it abundantly. The reality of our world this side of heaven is that life will stand next to loss. It is a matter of perspective for me. Though we have faced heartfelt loss this summer—as a family and as a culture—life in Christ is victorious. Life wins! He wins! The ocean continues to flow, babies are born, and life teems in beautiful ways.
The last night on the beach, Will and I were heading back up right as the sun was setting. As I looked back at the ocean, something caught my eye, a mama sea turtle swimming up the coast. I saw her head, followed by a large shell. It took my breath away. I watched her swim, coming up for air several times—something I have never seen before on the island that I love. And yet, there she was—a mama turtle—perhaps looking for a place to lay her nest. Tears filled my eyes. Oh Lord, how kind you are, once again, to show me that you ARE life. You CREATE life. You SUSTAIN life. In You, we have LIFE abundant.