03. Living Loved

One morning I drove past the same beach where the waves had splashed us in the dark storm. This time, the sun was just coming up, pouring a marigold-orange sheen over the tide. Hundreds of seagulls stood at the water’s edge, hopping away from the gentle, curling waves. Even the wet sand shimmered with the delicate orange of the sky.

The beauty and peace of it fed my soul, and I took it as another love-gift from God.

I wish there were some way to portray God’s love in the way He deserves.

Reading Ephesians 3:14-21, I feel that I’m in good company because it seems Paul had the same dilemma in trying to describe the size of God’s love. Now I know why it’s impossible: I’ve just remembered the familiar Gospel song, “The Love of God.”

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

I am grateful to live by the ocean because it gives me wonderful pictures of God’s love. I can imagine scribes crouching by its edge, dipping their quills into the tide, and never living long enough to write everything about God’s love. No wonder I can’t describe it as I want to in this chapter.

Every time I walk up to the top of our road, the ocean is still there. (I can’t see it when clouds cover it but even that is another metaphor of His love.) Sometimes I look at the sea from a distance. Other times, I sail on it with friends or watch the thundering breakers or stick my toes into the laughing ripples.

But the best way to experience the ocean is to walk into it until it nearly covers my shoulders. Then I can lean into the water, and it carries me. I am weightless and buoyant in the salt water and as graceful as an otter—as long as I trust the water to hold me up.

I can think of no better metaphor for God’s deep, vast, constant love that carries us and pours out endless beauty and blessing. The ocean wasn’t intended for us to watch from a distance. In the same way, God’s love always invites us—sometimes thunderously, sometimes in whispers—to come into it, to experience it fully. This is why God created us—to be complete in His love.

We must never mistake heated, chlorinated pools or framed seascapes on living room walls to be as exhilarating and beautiful as the actual ocean. Maybe these look like satisfactory substitutes to some people because pools and pictures aren’t as wild and unpredictable as the sea. Do you remember, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver’s delightful outburst when Lucy asked if Aslan is a man?

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