Some of my best childhood memories are of going to the beach with my family. I grew up in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley, about 30 miles from Zuma Beach in Malibu.
On Sunday afternoons we packed up our cooler with cans of Shasta sodas, tuna and/or egg salad sandwiches, bunches of grapes and a pink bakery box of cookies from our grandmother’s bakery in Los Angeles, piled in the car and drove to our happy place.
Zuma Beach had everything a kid could ever want: swing sets, sand, big ocean waves and little sand crabs that we trapped with cups when the waves came in and the crabs burrowed into the wet sand. I didn’t like the seaweed, and I’ve been caught a few times in an undertow, which is terrifying because it pulls you away from shore, but I’ve all but forgotten about that.
When I want to — need to — calm myself, when life piles on top of me, I’m drawn to the surf, even if only in my imagination and memories. There’s something about the beach, the hot sand, the salty breeze, the sun baking your skin, the rhythmic sound and cadence of the surf, even the screeching of seagulls as they fight over discarded French fries or potato chips. It’s the colors, the soothing blues and grays of the sky and water and the diamond-like sparkle of the sun shining on the sea.
This morning I came across a Bible verse that caught my attention: “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). It’s written about Jesus, God in human flesh who came to Earth to live with us, giving his people “grace upon grace.” As I thought about that phrase, grace upon grace, I thought of the constant, continuous waves of the ocean or gulf waters.
One Bible commentator, F.F. Bruce, said that followers of Christ “draw from the ocean of divine fullness, grace upon grace, one wave of grace being constantly replaced by a fresh one, without limit.”
Whatever we go through, whatever trial or trouble, temptation, disappointment, disaster or distress, God’s unlimited, unending grace is always there, continuously restoring us.
It’s like the hymn that goes, “O the deep, deep love of Jesus. Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free, rolling as a mighty ocean, in its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love….” The third verse says, “O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Love of every love the best; ‘tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘tis a haven sweet of rest.”
Just like the ebb and flow of the surf never misses a beat, so too the deep, deep love of Jesus never ceases to wash over our tired, weary souls.
I don’t know about you, but I’m so done with COVID. I’m so over the political divide in this country. I’m over hurricane season and the sniping on social media and everything else that’s wrong with this world.
But there is grace upon grace for the followers of Jesus, and endless store drawn from his fullness that we have all received. There’s a peace he gives that never runs out, mercies that are new every morning, rest for our bodies, minds and souls and a love of every love the best.