A sand piper needling the sand trots in a fast staccato along the edge of the gulf’s waters. With uncanny intuition he gauges the breaking and receding waves, scuttling back and forth. As I watch I fear that this time the little creature will be caught and dragged into deep water, but as always, he times it just right.
People also walk along this area of the beach. The sand is firm underfoot unlike loose, dry sand higher on the beach. People, however, are not as adept at judging the waves’ surges and retreats as the bird, and can wind up with wet shoes and clothes. Sometimes the consequences of the water’s pull is more dire, such as when a storm is brewing.
I feel like a sand piper moving back and forth along the edge trying to figure out where to step, except the constantly moving waves leave me sputtering. The world right now is more fluid than I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t predict the future. My daughter-in-law summed it perfectly when describing the pandemic.
“It’s the uncertainty that bothers me most.”
Her statement distills the many facets to our current situations. Will COVID-19 disappear or remain? What’s the price of underestimating it and from limiting activity? Will children be educated? Will we become more sensitive or more defensive with other races? Who will steer our country months from now?
Much is out of my control, but not all. I can make decisions. Will I categorize people or dialogue one-on-one? For whom will I vote? Should I wear a mask or shun it? Should I meet with people or keep distance? Should I travel or wait? Like the shoreline undulating in and out, some of my decisions will need to change based on the circumstances.
The real danger occurs if I don’t wrestle back and forth in decisions but walk a taut line. If I decide my course and never deviate from it, in effect I am clapping my hands over my ears to follow my rules and leave the LORD out of it. I block my relationship with God and other people, which grieves the Holy Spirit and swamps the light of Christ in me.
I feel like I’m stumbling on a narrow line between caution and consequence, hampering sand or rushing water. The sand piper is much better at predicting the meandering course. It would be easier if the line were straight and set, not requiring me to weigh decisions, but it’s the moment-by-moment decisions which drive me to consult the Holy Spirit. “What about this situation, LORD? Should I take this risk and trust You or be cautious and not test You?” My decisions are not as intuitive as a sand piper’s path, but asking, listening, wrestling and walking by faith in the Spirit result in a richer life and healthier relationships.
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5