Last week, I went on retreat to the Isle of Wight. One morning I set out to spend the day walking along the beach in Bembridge. When I arrived, the sea had just reached high tide and so I sat on the sea wall enjoying the waves and being reminded of the faithfulness and constancy of God. Words from the great hymn Our God, our help in ages past came to mind, though very much mixing up the verses:
‘Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away, from everlasting, Thou art God, to endless years the same.’
What stood out in my mind was the faithfulness of God throughout the ages and how we are such a small part of history. Yet somehow God values each of us and shows an interest in us as though we were the most significant part.
Throughout the rest of the day, I walked the shore while the tide slowly did its thing, pausing to read a book and pray at intermittent points, finally reaching a café when I reached the mouth of the River Yar and could go no further. After another rest I turned to walk back.
With black clouds looming I paused far less on my return journey, to receive such a surprise when I reached my starting point at low tide. I do know that this should be obvious, but I was so struck but how different the landscape looked when the tide had gone out. All these rocks and old worn-down wave breaks had been uncovered, decorated with seaweed and shells of many kinds. Yet of course they had always been there!
I felt the Spirit say to me, ‘This is like the Kingdom of God; always present, yet when it is uncovered the landscape looks so different.’ It then struck me that we, as the people of God, have the ability through living our lives in Jesus, to reveal His kingdom in the world and change the look of the landscape. It was an exciting and encouraging thought especially as we have
been exploring how we can make a difference in our frontlines and places of influence.
Yet it was followed by a challenge! As I continued to enjoy the look of the new landscape and notice all the new things I could see, I felt the Spirit say, ‘My people are often content to play around in the rock pools and shallows. Yet there are an ocean’s depths of my kingdom still to discover. Come diving!’
This unsurprisingly reminded me of the song Oceans where the lyrics read, ‘Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, where my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Saviour.’ When we first begin to get to know all that is available for us in God’s kingdom, ‘playing’ in the shallows and rock pools is a great place to be and to explore. But let us never settle for just what we can see, no matter how beautiful the scene….
I pray that Jesus will increase our desire to discover more of His kingdom values, that we will go diving with Him to discover all that He has for us in the mysterious depths of the ocean. I pray that the consequence of this is that our faith will increase and that as we discover the depths, this will change the landscape for those around us to reveal more of the Kingdom of God to our communities.