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Steve West: A walk on the beach

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WORLD Radio - Steve West: A walk on the beach

God’s love is powerful and relentless


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NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, September 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD commentator Steve West recently took a walk on the beach with his wife and found some unexpected reminders.

STEVE WEST, COMMENTATOR: On an evening walk down North Carolina’s Wrightsville Beach, my daughter once reminded me that the shells that crunch under our feet are the remains of dead animals: snails, coral, and the like. The sand itself is what’s left of quartz rocks worn down by wave and wind. Today, children play with the contents of this burial mound under a blue-white sky, with brightly colored buckets and shovels while parents talk or read.

We are often unaware of where we are, of what we live atop, or even who we are-that our lives are built on those who have gone before us, names lost to the depths and ebb and flow of time.

But God sees.

Amid death and decay, there are beautiful certainties that the prophet Jeremiah reminds me of: life like a watered garden, mourning turned into joy, gladness traded for sorrow. And then there’s this promise in Jeremiah 31, verse 8: “And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord.”

Pruning. Creative destruction. God plucks out waywardness, dependence on anything but him; rebuilding and replanting us in new patterns, in tilled rows of earth and sky.

In July, my wife and I visited the beach in North Carolina again. As we walked together, the sun setting low ahead of us, my wife spoke up. “I love watching the waves, the tides. It reminds me of the constant love of God for me.” I think about the violence of the waves, the constant wearing away of the shells and grains of sand, the smoothing of the line where land meets sea.

God’s love is no sentimental love, no pandering love, but one that strips away the old to make me new. It’s a relentless love that sometimes takes me through darkness so that I will cling to Him all the more that breaks down even as it builds up.

Oswald Chambers says, “Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us? Are we prepared to be separated from the outward, evident blessings of God?” And then he adds, “Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well.”

Farther down the beach, two women walked toward my wife and me, heads cast down, examining shells. As we neared my wife dropped a translucent green piece of sea glass behind her, a gift for the observant. We passed. Turning back, we saw one woman stop, exclaim, as she spied and scooped up the sea glass.

We walked on, smiling. That’s how it is: even in death, glory; even in worn-down remains, beauty. And surprise at the treasure God brings.

I’m Steve West.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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