I didn’t see the ocean until I was thirty years old. I was on tour as the audio guy/ driver for a Southern Gospel group called The Cumberland Boys a few years back, and they knew I’d never seen the ocean in person, so we took a detour while heading south for our next concert, so I could get my first experience. The stop was Morehead Beach in North Carolina. We couldn’t see the ocean from where we parked, but I could hear it. It was as if I could hear eternity in the distance.
I jumped out of the van and ran across the parking lot and down the beach to the edge of where the water stopped before it receded back into itself. I remember staring out across the water that seemed to vanish into eternity. It was peaceful. There was an immenseness about it that seemed to affirm the presence of a big God. A steady God.
That’s what the ocean means to me. The steadiness of God. The peace of God, you know, that kind of peace that surpasses our understanding. I haven’t had the opportunity to go and meet God in this context in over two years, and my soul feels the absence. I could try to substitute the experience by going to an isolated lake. If it’s a big lake like Lake Michigan it can almost feel like the real thing, but it isn’t. I need the real thing.
I see where this is going now. I can listen to Christian music when I’m depressed and it helps, a lot, sometimes. I can put “Passion Of The Christ” in my DVD player, and I’ll definitely feel it until it’s over. Like lakes, these point to the real thing, but they’re not the real thing. I need the ocean. I need the overwhelming presence of a God that’s there waiting for me. To give me peace.
“If I hear the wind howl, if I hear “hallelujah” in its cry, have I heard an angel sigh or sing the song he was born to live? If I hear a low rumbling in the river while I walk along its shores, if I hear it whisper “I AM still here” have I heard nature speak the truth?
“If I hear the ocean’s timeless tides, whispering up and down the shoreline, “future, past, and present, future, past, and present,” will I finally know I’m not alone?”