The Choicest Beaches

Some of the greatest memories of our family times as our children were growing up are connected to Lake Michigan.  Not unusual for a Michigan family born and bred.  But the several times we vacationed as a family that resonate in my memory were at places like Silver Lake, Little Sable Pointe, Ludington, Grand Haven, Holland South Haven, and Saugatuck.  I guess we would have to include in that the five vacations we spent on Little Traverse Bay as being “Lake Michigan” vacations too.  The last time my nuclear family was on vacation together was August of 2012. It was one of the most memorable vacations in my mind because we knew it would be the last time just the seven of us would be on vacation together as we were all those years while they were growing up.  It, too, was on Lake Michigan in a rented cabin about a half-hour west of the Bridge. Special times.

So, it was familiar to take a trip last week on vacation to Lake Michigan once again. Evan and Jena are with us from Louisville and we wanted to spend a special couple of days out there with them and the boys. We went to a beach where we had never been before. It was in Saugatuck State Park. The thing about this beach was that it was about a mile hike from the parking lot to the shore.  Now, just to hike it would have been no problem.  But we had to carry all our “beach provisions” with us including our food for the day, two little boys, and a beach tent for shade. I was so grateful it was relatively cool that day and the walk was through a nicely shaded forest.  Once you got near the shore there was a steep dune one had to descend to get to the beach.  That was not so bad.  It was the trip back up that was a killer.

Well, we got to the beach, set up shop, played around a little with the kids, and I laid down under the beach tent shade for about a half hour semi-nap.  During that time, Michal had taken off down the beach for a walk.  When I roused, I asked Jena and Evan where Michal had gone, and they indicated she had taken off down the beach for a walk. I decided I’d to the same and would intercept her on the way as she made her way back. What I did not know was that she had decided to go up top on the dune for her return trip.  A few minuets after I started out, she made it back to our spot. Evan ran down the beach to intercept me and let me know mom as back.  I decided to continue my walk down the crowded beach anyway.

But as I went, and the longer I walked, I noticed fewer and fewer people on the beach.  It finally dawned upon me that I had walked long enough to now be alone on the beach with no one in sight moving forward. I thought it odd to be all alone.  And then it hit me… this is an opportunity for me to spend some time in prayer. Now, I don’t know about you but when I’m on vacation and my schedule is all whoppy-jawed, I find it very difficult to spend my regular time in prayer. So, when I recognized this opportunity, I took it and had a wonderful time of communion with the Lord.

It struck me as I walked further and further, that sometimes the choicest beaches are the ones you have to walk the furthest to find.  First, it was our mile trek from the parking lot to the beach. Then it was the walking and walking and walking that ultimately cleared me of people and gave me the opportunity to spend some time in prayer. It was a special moment for me.

I think there is a message for all of us in this.  Had I stopped walking sooner than I did, I never would have found the solitude of a beach on the shores of Lake Michigan where I would find communion with the Lord. It occurred to me that this serves as a metaphor for all our spiritual pursuits.  Sometimes, the choicest moments with God on the choicest beaches are just a little further.  Sometimes, our greatest achievements for him will require a little longer walk.  Sometimes, it will take a little longer obedience in the same direction to find those life changing moments, insights, and achievements for the Kingdom we all genuinely want to realize in our lives. Going a little further than we thought we could go, we often find a solitary beach that can make a huge difference in our lives as we experience a seminal instance, a pivotal decision, or a groundbreaking revelation of truth. But had we stopped short…

The thing is, one never knows what beaches are yet to be discovered if we don’t keep on walking. So, my encouragement to you today is…walk on. Don’t stop short. Don’t give up. There are some great beaches to be found. There are some great moments to experience. Who knows what we might miss if we stop short?  Who knows what treasures are ahead if we just keep walking?


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