My window doesn’t look out on the ocean, but on a still and quiet night, I can barely hear the sound of the waves crashing on the beach just over a mile away from my backyard. There has always been an appeal for me, to the idea of living near the ocean or on the lofty height of a mountain, and even better if you could accomplish both.
Our beach has been an endless delight, and a source of wonder where heaven and nature sing the rhythms of life. The bird life varies through the seasons like flowers in a garden, but winter brings a greater variety to our shores. I like to see the seagulls, terns, sandpipers, and barking black skimmers flocked together for a convention or, as I call it on Sabbath, a branch Sabbath School.
At other times the pelicans and osprey are dive-bombing for fish while the snowy and great egrets eat their catch along the shoreline one gulp at a time. Even more riveting was watching birds feed on a Christmas day as they circled out over the ocean to feast on the leftovers provided by a pod of Right whales and dolphins migrating south.
While all this is happening, the waves continue to wash up on the sand with a musical rhythm. Roll in and wash out, roll in and wash out…
Along the sand are holes of various sizes. Often there is a pile of fresh sand recently excavated out of the hole. Settling a chair near some of these passageways is the best way to witness this process. Once you are still, ghost crabs of varying sizes will stick their eye antennas out and survey the area for risks using the 360-degree radius without having to take a step. Then when the coast is clear, they proceed to use their pinchers like a shovel and clean out unwanted sand.
As the tide comes in and water washes farther onto the beach, the holes that are closer to the water become flooded. This helps to keep them cool and hydrated during the heat of the day and provides plenty of exercise shoveling out more sand after the water has disrupted their orderly domain. The flooding of high tide might even deliver some snacks for them.
While doing my daily Bible reading plan, a verse in 2 Chronicles 17 caught my attention. It was one of those verses similar to the genealogies that are tempting to skim through because it is listing off the military captains with a hint of their genealogy and often the number of those with them. Sometimes the captain is a mighty man of valor, sometimes his men are mighty men of valor.
Jehoshaphat has five captains of thousands listed who were stationed in Jerusalem, but in verse 16, one has a unique description:
“…and next to him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself to the Lord, and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valor” (emphasis added).
Other versions use the word volunteer, yet something about the NKJV language, “who willingly offered himself to the Lord,” speaks to me of a divine offering, a gift from the heart. After some word searching, I realized this isn’t unique language. God instructs Moses on how to ask for an offering to build the tabernacle, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”
And when Moses asked as God directed,
“Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart…” (Exodus 35:21-22a).
In 1 Chronicles 29:6, the people “offered willingly” of valuable materials when David cast the vision for Solomon to build the temple to the Lord in Jerusalem. Verse 9 goes on to tell of the reward for their offering — joy running over,
“Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord; and King David also rejoiced greatly.”
Call to Action
The creatures eating along our shore, racing across the sand, flying in the heavens, and dancing in the sea go about their daily work willingly because the instinct created within tells them how to live and flourish. Shouldn’t we do the same? We were created with the same instinct to willingly offer our living, our work, our play, our hearts, and our whole being to the Lord. Yet the executive reasoning that is so uniquely human allows us the choice to reject the same instinct woven into our beings.
Sin has stained our choices, but our sin has been redeemed. By the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, we may offer ourselves willingly to the Lord, and in doing so, we are never the same again. Jesus gladly takes our willing offer and then He uses us for His glory. Praise God this is how the work will be finished on this earth, and we will go home to Heaven!
All scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.