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High tide

High tide

I look for a line in the sand.

Here in Florida for a quick, weekend getaway, my wife and I walk on the beach. I hope to photograph a clear edge to the surging ocean. The blue sky, streaked with the remains of a midday storm, is reflected in the mirror-like sheen on the sand. This calm beauty is contrasted to the tumultuous ocean, crashing loudly on my left.

I’m all about that contrast today. And the border in-between.

In the bible, the ocean is a metaphor for chaos. And chaos represents the spiritual forces that are attempting to disintegrate any sense of order in the world – to imply that the apparent randomness of life precludes any guiding hand of God. Chaos preaches meaninglessness.

But God combats this, like he does in Genesis 1, by establishing structure and design, separating items and giving them boundaries. Like with the ocean:

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so…And God saw that it was good. (Gen. 1:9-10)

when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command… (Prov. 8: 28-29)

Watching the waves recede, I get my photo and we head back, thankful for the orderliness of the tides.

But the next morning, as carry our chairs to beach, we find a startling sight. The beach is gone! The ocean has encroached right up to the retaining wall. In all my years of coming here, I’ve never seen anything like this. Perhaps it’s due to the super moon, or distant hurricanes, or the recent erosion of sand.

It’s disappointing, of course. But it’s a powerful reminder to me that the forces of disorder are always pressing forward, never at rest.

I want my life to be ordered like this. Clean. Crisp. Established with minimal maintenance. I want my ducks in a row to be ceramic.

But that’s not possible in this world. We have an enemy here who is dedicated to breaking down any neatness, any symmetry, any sense. He wants to overrun our faith and dismantle our resolve.

It’s easy to see increasing chaos in the natural disasters that frequently crop up. But I sense it as well in the inner turmoil of people around me – and feel it in my own physical manifestations of stress. Disorder presses on, presses in. It overruns.

Remember, though, Jesus stilled the waves. And more than being just an astonishing display of power over nature, we are meant to see the connection to the “topsy turvy” waters of Genesis 1. Jesus is the king over those chaotic forces. Though they may advance, they do so only temporarily.

We are sent, in his power, to be agents of order. And in a rising tide of hopelessness, we stand on the retaining wall of the gospel.

Father, grant each of us a way to bring order into this chaotic world. By our words, our actions, our very presence, empower us to counteract the forces that sow the lie of meaninglessness, that the world may know your love, peace, and authority.

Reader: How do you bring order into a turbulent world?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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