When The Sun Sets

Have you ever watched the sunset? 

I’m not talking about a time where you just happened to see the sun go down. I’m not talking about a time where you were driving somewhere and happened to look out the window and say, “oh that’s cool.”

No. I’m talking about a time where you intentionally chose to pause for a few minutes and do nothing but simply look to the horizon. It’s a powerful and moving experience to stop, slow down, and reflect on the day. The added bonus to this reflection time is, usually, you are treated to an incredible show. 

God, in His immense creativity, has created wonderful shows of beauty for us to enjoy. Sunsets are one of those spectacular treats that we are blessed to indulge in. 

Each sunset that I watch rush my mind back to Psalm 19:1. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” 

How neat is that? Creation itself, boldly and gloriously proclaims the spender of our creator God! He is unmatched in all that He does and all that He is. 

I think, for me, one of the reasons why I enjoy watching the sun sink below the horizon is because it is a consistent reminder of the natural rhythms of life. No matter how busy the day is, nor how pressing the issues are, the sun always will go down. The day will always end. With the ending of each day comes the promise of a new day. The sun is just a few hours away from peaking out from the East. 

And this constant reminder is good for me because it reminds me that I am not in control. I cannot make the sun standstill. No matter how hard I work, no matter how hard I try, no matter how important I think I am…the sun will always set. I cannot stop that process. It is out of my control. And so, the only thing I can do is rest.

Rest is a biblical concept introduced by God Himself in Genesis chapter 2. We need to rest. We need to take a pause and reflect on the goodness that God has shown us that specific day. We need to watch the sunset.

It is right as the sun finally disappears that I usually am overwhelmed with a sense of great expectation for when the sun will once again rise bright in the sky.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have great expectation for when Jesus will, once again, return to gather all of those who are His. The Son will come again!

So, while we wait, let us be sure to be busy telling others about Jesus and His love. And after the day is gone, when the sun is setting, let us reflect on His goodness and find true rest. 

Not So Smooth Seas

The sway of the ship was slowly but steadily growing. Passenger’s faces were painted with a mixture of discomfort and concern. The storm was approaching.

My companions groaned and quickly prayed for smooth sailing and calm stomachs. Me? Well, I was up out of my seat powerwalking to the deck. I wanted to feel the power of the sea.

Open water, especially when it is windy and wild, has always been an odd mix of calming and exhilarating for me. Hearing the waves crash violently against the rocks can both soothe and motivate me.

Standing there on the deck in the middle of the Aegean Sea surrounded by white-capped waves helped me to process the horrors I had just seen in a refugee camp. But it also motivated me and encouraged me to press on and to make a difference in my own corner of the world.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

James, the brother of Jesus once wrote, “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Both of these quotes are appropriate for our current troubled times. Many of us may be feeling the stresses of life crash around us. Both on a macro and micro level we all are being impacted by this pandemic and all the implications following lockdown.

But how we act and react is crucial.

We must realize that in the midst of any circumstance God remains good. Our faith is not dependent on our circumstances. We cannot be tossed back and forth by the situations that we face on a day to day basis.

Our circumstances change, but the object of our faith does not.

And so, when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can endure the storms that come. In fact, we can joyfully embrace the trials that we face because we know, as the Bible tells us, that these trials will deepen our faith and ultimately produce steadfastness in us.

We can also realize that when, not if, but when God sees us through these rocky waters, we will be better prepared for the next set of waves when they come. Troubled times come and go. This set of unfortunate circumstances is not the first that we have faced, and it will not be the last. In fact, Jesus tells us that, “in this world, you will have troubles…” But, thankfully, He doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t just leave us with the bad news that we will face trials and troubles, no, He gives us hope. He continues on and says, “but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Understand that in this time God is looking to develop you into the man or woman that He created you to be. As He molds you, don’t forget to be joyful in the midst of every circumstance. And ultimately, rest in the fact that Jesus has already overcome this world.

After the storm died down a bit, I snapped the picture shown above. It is a nice reminder that even when the wind and the waves rage, the sun is still shining.

Even when the wind and the waves of our lives rage, the Son is still shining. Trust in Him today.

My Lighthouse

The ocean is incredible.

Out of all of God’s amazing creations (human beings aside), I would argue that the ocean is my favorite. Mountains are spectacular, forests are beautiful, prairies are elegant, deserts and canyons are really neat, but none of those environments fill me a sense of overwhelmed joy that the ocean does. I am captivated by the sound and spray of waves, and I could contently sit and stare for hours.

I am a Midwesterner born and bred. So, admittedly, my experience with the ocean is far less than my experience with flat land, corn fields, and rivers. Nevertheless, I think it is safe to say that I have fallen in love with the sea.

But as beautiful as the ocean is, it is just as dangerous. In fact, its beauty oftentimes hides its true peril.

For centuries sailors have fearlessly sailed the oceans, navigated through storms, and charted coastlines. Through it all their greatest ally was always the lighthouse.

Shining in the dark, a lighthouse was a fierce and yet, welcomed reminder of the imminent danger that the sailors knew was there, but could not see for themselves.

Lighthouses keep people alive.

I have a lighthouse, so to speak. My lighthouse actually calls Himself the light of the world and promises that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but instead, will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

Jesus shines brightly in the darkness that surrounds me. He keeps me away from the danger that I can see, as well as the danger that I cannot see. And He guides me safely so that I can have rest.

Lighthouses keep people alive. Jesus makes people alive.

Friends, I don’t mean to sound preachy here by any means. But life, just like the ocean can be incredibly and wonderfully beautiful. But it is also just as dangerous. In fact, life is more dangerous than we may even comprehend, and I am not just talking about physical danger. There are emotional and spiritual dangers that are always lurking before us and we will crash into them if we do not look to the lighthouse to guide our way.

We need Jesus to guard and guide our hearts, minds, words, and steps if we are ever going to thrive in this life.

We need to look to Jesus because He will not and cannot lead us astray. And His light cannot be dimmed.

After all, as one of my favorite verses tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Jesus is trustworthy and true. He is the light.

What or who are you looking to?