Relentless

God’s personality has been presenting itself to me through nature lately. Blessed by a trip to the beach with my family, I sat on the sand, surrounded by the big sky, salty wind blowing through my tangled, yet sun-kissed hair. My attention tuned in to the waves and how they keep coming, one after another, day after day. Wading out knee-deep into the ocean and demanding them to stop would be an idiotic exercise in futility.

The waves are RELENTLESS. Unstoppable. Present even when I’d rather they not be, ongoing without my help. What an incredible picture of God’s grace! He’s relentless in his pursuit of us, friends. You might be sitting on the shore of your life, staring out into an ocean of problems—and that’s not necessarily a bad place to be because you’ve got a front-row seat to the waves. Let God in. He’s there and his love for you is not going to stop because you’re not feeling it. Let the grace wash over you and thank him for his relentless presence in your life. Notice one small, beautiful thing today. He put it there for you! There is strength for today and there will be strength for tomorrow through Him.

Last Fall, I was completely stressed out by so many things outside the realm of my control, just like the disciples in the boat as they crossed the sea of Galilee in the middle of a raging storm. And Jesus was asleep. They questioned his concern for their safety as they woke him up and asked, “Don’t you care?” (Mark 4:38) One short year ago, I was there with them in that boat.

The waves crashed over the edges of my boundaries I’d set for sane living, and as my boat filled up with trouble and confusion, I questioned Jesus, “Don’t you care?” As I read that passage in the midst of my storm, my savior looked up at me, maybe the same way he looked at his exhausted, storm-beaten disciples in the boat and, later, Peter after three denials and a cock crow (Luke 22:16). A look of relentless love that said gently, yet firmly “How can you question my care for you?”

A visa trip to an urban beach came at exactly the right time. I found myself whisked away from the storm and set on a beach for a little respite. We left the cares of China within the borders of the mainland and breathed a sigh of relief as we encountered a bustling Korean beach town.

Our adorable little AirBnB apartment sat atop a hill in a steep neighborhood, not far from the beach.  As I struggled to push the stroller up the 45-degree slanting sidewalk, I looked up and saw a beautiful painting of Jesus on a shop door. Looking closer, I saw him surrounded by waves, arms out-stretched in that millisecond before he calmed the storm. Right there in my path from the beach to the apartment! The very image He’d been using to speak to me as I read through Mark with my accountability group a few days before!

What a good God we serve. You may doubt it and wonder why you’re dealing with the storm that is your life right now, but I pray you’ll know he’s right there with you, caring for you. Continue to pray as the man in Mark 9:23 “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Fast forward a year. We’re settling down in a small town in Texas and happy to have a new season upon us. We bought a cute house with an adorable front porch! Not even two months in, the barn swallows invited themselves to our porch and began setting up a nest. I chased them off with a fly-swatter and tried everything I could to keep them at bay.

In the back of my mind, I recalled the Chinese saying something about a swallow building a nest in your doorway means you’re blessed. I laughed as we returned from a weekend trip and the birds had started their nest ON the front door. Again, I scraped down their effort. Finally, we gave them the perfect opportunity: we left for two weeks and returned finding a full-fledged nest on one of the front porch posts. We let them keep that one, and now the kids are enjoying watching the baby birds from our living room window. Relentless. I’m reminded again that God will bless us, even if we’re swatting Him away (like I can be tempted to do when things just aren’t going my way). Thank you, Lord for the little ways you speak to me!

How is God showing up and speaking to you these days? Do you have a story to share about God revealing his personality through your surroundings?

3 Comments

  1. Wendy September 18, 2017

    Yes! I so resonate with this article. Recently our family moved from W Africa to E Europe and then here to Germany. That was a lot of transition for our family in a short time, but we are certain that God was in it. Several years or so ago I sensed that the Lord was bringing us into a time of “nesting” and “boundaries” for our family. I didn’t know what that looked like, but I was drawn to these verses in Ps 84:3 which says “Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts!” And also to Ecclesiastes 3:5a which says “a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.” After doing a little research on what this meant, I learned that some connect this to the act of pulling stones from a field and then planing, after which there is a gathering of stones to build a wall around the field or a watchtower. That really spoke to me as I thought about a season of margin for our kids in particular. As we settled down in this little German village, just a month ago, I realized that not only is the town surrounded by vineyards, but it is known for its stork sanctuary; storks being birds who really take good care of their young! Jesus constantly uses pictures like these to speak directly to my heart. I highly recommend the book Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire if you want to read more about how God speaks through art, nature, song, movies, books, and the like. He knows us so well, it is not surprising that He speaks to our soul in such beautiful ways.

  2. Monica September 18, 2017

    Beautiful post M’Lynn, I resonated with so much of it, and can identify too with ‘the mainland’ and aspect of your story. And yes, it’s true- bird nests in the doorway IS a blessing! The people group we lived among in the south, welcomed swallows nesting in the entry way of their village homes. It was a beautiful picture of welcoming all creatures great and small, and showed the home was blessed as well. I have precious memories of sitting on the front porches of many a home in the spring time, and watching the swallows build their nests- thanks for reminding me of that today.

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