A few years ago, my husband and I went to our favorite public beach on Gasparilla Island, FL, and we were shocked at what we saw!
In the past, our walk from the parking lot to the water was a relatively short distance. Usually when we got out of our car, there were cabanas with picnic tables, and once we got on the beach and looked to our right, we saw a big shade tree, huge rocks, and boulders in front of beautiful beachfront properties. Beyond the huge rocks, was a short beach, and an inlet where mounds of beautiful shells were stacked on the shore. When we walked to our left, the beach stretched quite a ways, until we got to a bulkhead in front of a little yellow hotel.
But, now, when we got out of our car, we saw that the beach was twice as wide, from the parking lot to the water, as it had been back in the past. The sand was completely mowed down, debris was buried, and big tire track marks could be seen in the sand. Heavy machinery and equipment had been used to position a huge pipeline right across the middle of the beach, to dredge sand from the Gulf of Mexico back onto the beach. The waves were the same, but we saw a monstrous barge far out in the water working to reclaim sand and fulfill its mission to enlarge the beach.
Sand that had been lost in storms and hurricanes was reclaimed, taken back, retrieved to make a wider beach. Also, wide bridges of sand were formed over the pipeline in several areas for us to gain access to the water. The new beach space was so expansive…it made the horizon looked immense. However, the trek to the water from the parking lot, now took us much longer. And we had to carry our heavy baggage and beach “stuff” such a long way, we were exhausted. It took extra effort just to get to the water. Also, now we were farther from the shade and the picnic tables, under the cabanas.
We love shelling, but no one was shelling. We saw many more tiny broken shells and fewer big ones, because there were no nooks and crannies for shells to get caught up in. The beach was completely smooth and flat, no large mounds of beautiful shells, and no rocks or boulders. The beautiful beach houses looked a lot less private, since they were now easily seen from the beach. But, with no trees, shrubs, or sea oats to block the view from the houses to the water, the homeowners also, now had great, unobstructed views of the Gulf. The beach seemed to go on for miles, we could see all the way down the shoreline in both directions, giving us a clear view.
Everyone seemed shocked when they first arrived at the beach…it’s a BIG change. The pipeline lying across the beach divides the people into shade worshippers and sun worshippers. The pipeline itself was old and rusty; it obstructed our view of the water until we climbed over it via the sandy bridges. It was ugly and unsightly. With “KEEP OFF” warning signs scribbled on it…it looked like a wall of graffiti in a NY subway station.
But, the larger beach did attract more people!
People were exploring everywhere. Up and down the beach, over by the big machinery, on the sand bridges over the pipeline. It was so new and different, that it was exciting. Everyone wanted to check it all out. The sand bridges attracted many children, also, because great mounds of sand had been formed to climb up on, and slide down. Which they did, over and over!
What a great day in the sun!! To enjoy the wonderful, cool, and refreshing water, everyone embraced the “newness“ of the scenery, and ignored the “unsightliness” of the essential, but ugly pipeline. The pleasures of a day at the beach far outweighed the hassles involved with being there while all this reclaiming was going on.
Church, we have a mission, too! We need to periodically “reclaim” what’s lost in our lives. We need to see our lost opportunities, and the lost souls around us. We can’t just sit back and watch from a distance. We don’t go to the beach to sit in the parking lot. We don’t enjoy the Christian “walk” by being a spectator. Sometimes this world is hard to live in when all this “reclaiming of the lost” is going on, but I assure you, seeing your loved ones refreshed at the water’s edge, instead of drying up on the beach, is worth all the hassles involved in helping to get them there. Let’s ask the Lord to mow down the debris in our lives, and in others we know, so there are fewer obstacles in our paths.
Find out what obstructs their view of the water. What obstructs their view of Jesus?
Let’s scrape away the surface, dig a little deeper, move the heavy rocks away (even it takes big machinery), and desire to walk a little farther down the beach. When our view is clear, and we’re determined to touch the water, we can show others how to get to the water’s cool, refreshing presence. Jesus has provided the essential pipeline to reclaiming that which has been lost. He has built the bridge to His refreshing “Living Waters.” Show others that the way over the ugly pipeline is over the bridge He has provided. There they’ll find the refreshing water they need.
The way is straight.
The Bible says in Psalms 5:8, “Lead me. O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before thy face.” KJV
Relax, come out from your shady hiding place, and soak up the sun. Be “SON” worshippers! Be refreshed in the wave of the Holy Spirit. But, protect yourself from the harmful rays of the burning sun. When you’re at the beach, wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, sandals, beach shoes, a cover-up, and bring a beach umbrella. When you’re determined to splash in the Living Waters, protect yourself from the fiery darts of the enemy…pray, put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the shoes of peace, and bring the sword of the Spirit.
Dive into the refreshing water and be cleansed. The waves are calm, but while the barge works to reclaim lost sand, Jesus is working to reclaim lost souls. The barge is rusty, noisy, and intrusive, but its work needs to be done. Reclaim what the elements have taken…reclaim what the enemy has taken. Don’t let the lost climb up to the bridge only to slip back down. Work hard by the power of the Holy Spirit as your heavy equipment. It’s necessary. Step out of the calm, peaceful atmosphere of your church to the job of reclaiming lost souls and lost life opportunities. Keep the beach you already have, but add to it. Disciple those in your care. Teach them to reach out, too. So they can be used in God’s Kingdom to reclaim what’s lost in their lives, and in those around them. Then get to work, all day, every day, reaching, reclaiming. Touching lives for the Kingdom of God. “GO!”
Pray for anointing. Walk farther down the beach. Lots of obstacles will try to get in our way. Allow the Holy Spirit to mow them down. Make a greater effort. We can’t think about just feeding ourselves. Christians, we need to carry more supplies. Be full, so you have enough to give others. Don’t let the “KEEP OFF” attitude of the lost souls deter you. Pray, because we need more anointing, more compassion, more love, more mercy, more strength, more peace, and more discernment. We need reinforcements. Pray for a harvest of workers with similar passions. Kids, teens, adults, committed to bringing the message of Christ to their town, country, world. The Lord’s making the beach larger in this world and it’s attracting more needy and lost souls to His Kingdom. The hurting are exploring…be ready to direct them to Jesus. And, (Amen!), it’s attracting children who’ve been brought up without faith. But, now they’re searching for what they’re missing. Reclaim them, don’t let them die on the beach…they’re so close to the water!! Help them see the water in the distance and go for it. Pick up people along the way and bring them with you. What’s to stop you? What else do you need? The Lord has flattened out the area for you and made it fertile ground. He’s placed a bridge. You can see clearly now what needs to be done. The path to the refreshing water is just over the bridge. Climb up. Sometimes its hard work, but don’t let others slide back down. The sand is hard to walk on. Sometimes it seems like you’re not making much headway. But, walk on. There’s no retreating, just reclaiming. The pipeline is not made to send the sand back out to sea; the barge only knows to reclaim it from the sea bottom through the pipeline back to the beach. It doesn’t go in reverse.
Romp, play, enjoy the sun and fun, but keep your eyes on the horizon where Jesus is. Stay focused. Boats may go speeding by, planes may fly above, they’re going too fast to stop, but you’re on the beach with the lost souls, reclaiming them for Jesus. Don’t wear blinders on the beach. Don’t let anyone carry heavy burdens alone. Point to Jesus who can carry all our burdens. Don’t let people drop in the hot sand. Pick them up, don’t worry about any dirt or sand on them, Jesus can wash that away. Then, lead them to the bridge, over the pipeline, to the water’s edge. The sand is hot without something to protect your feet. The sun is bright and blinding without sunglasses. Equip them, as you’ve been equipped. Reclaim and disciple. Give them the umbrella of protection you’ve found. There’s enough room for everyone under the umbrella of the Holy Spirit. There’s enough Jesus to spread around. Give freely. Jesus will cover them with His blood and give them His white robe of righteousness. Don’t let them bake in the sun and dry up in the heat. The enemy will pick at them like vultures. Birds hover overhead just waiting for something to die. Be determined that it won’t happen to anyone you come in contact with.
Spontaneous people go to the beach ill equipped without the necessary supplies for themselves, let alone anyone else. Plan and be prepared with what you need for the trip today. Each day put on your Christian armor; the whole armor of God. Then, bring gear from your overflow to share with the ill equipped. You need to be ready to reclaim the beach, or the sand will be lost forever and the beach will be gone. Reclaim the lost. Just as the sand gets all over you, and it’s messy…sometimes the mess from the lives of others gets all over you, but the water washes it away. You’re at the beach, you’ll see people fishing: Go fishing. You’ll see people shelling: Go shelling. You’ll see people exploring: Go explore. What’s your passion? There’s a ministry opportunity just waiting for you.
The water is the place of refuge for that lost soul. And Jesus’ cool, cleansing water is what changes your lost opportunities into new and exciting dreams.
Did you bring enough towels? Give away your extras. Then wrap the lost in the loving arms of our Savior.