Inspired by The Isle of Seil, just off the West Coast of Scotland
I have always loved space. Space, physically to move freely and not feel confined. Space, emotionally so I can process and unwind. Space, spiritually that breaks me out of religious grind.
Space offers me relief. When I am beginning to feel hemmed in, I feel a stirring in my spirit to seek it out. Finding an abundance of physical space is a good start.
A visit to the ocean is the best place to find space.
Whenever I find myself wandering, with little sense of direction and taken over by the demands and struggles of life, I somehow find myself by the sea. I am drawn to it when life is all getting a bit too much.
February 2019 was no different. I found myself on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on a tiny Island off the Coast of Scotland. For my husband and I, this was uncharted territory and we drove until we ran out of road.
The vast ocean stretched before us and physically, we could go no further.
As we arrived at the edge of the ocean it suddenly became clear; I had been brought to this edge by the very creator, Himself.
The physical reality of travelling to lands end became something more. A symbol of my limitations, a coming to the end of my own abilities and efforts to seek to live a free and fulfilled life.
Maybe life in all its fullness happens when we come to the end of ourselves and realise our dependence on and need for God?
You see, here on the edge of the ocean, my wandering was no longer an option. It forced me to stop.
The edge interrupted my striving and own efforts, busyness, confusion and destructive thoughts as I stood in awe of what has been created by my creator.
This boundless wild wilderness, undoubtedly reflected His vastness and was my stark reminder that He held infinitely more power than me.
I couldn’t set myself free.
And something special happened there on the edge of the ocean. Deep within me, surrender rose to the surface above my desire to be in control and I admitted I couldn’t go any further on my own.
I waved my white flag.
I admitted I needed to stop my wandering that was taking me down paths I was never meant to walk down. I admitted that I can’t sort my ‘issues’ out all by myself but need to give them willingly to Him who can sort them for me. It’s not our ‘better choices’ that set us free. That puts the onus on us; about what we can do to set ourselves free. I have never found myself victorious in my pursuit of freedom by making ‘better choices.’
I wonder if He beckoned me to the edge of the ocean to show me I couldn’t travel any further on my own? I wonder if He brought me to the end of the road to help me see I had come to the end of myself (my own abilities and efforts)?
At the end of our road, His strength is found because our end isn’t His end. We have not reached a dead end because He cannot be concealed by the ends of our earth.
Somehow in that vastness, I didn’t find myself lost but found because there on the edge of the ocean, at the end of myself, I surrendered my struggle and God proved himself faithful. I found Him there.
I came away from that Island, different.
I knew something within me had changed. I was lighter, of course, for I had surrendered my control and I was no longer carrying that which I was trying to set myself free from.
But, I wasn’t coming back empty handed. Surrender had made space for me to carry something new.
As Andy and I drove away off that little Island I realised I was carrying promises from God that had come to light in my heart during our adventure to the edge of the ocean.
They had become clear as I had surrendered that which had caused my murky perspectives.
The first promise was that God would never withdraw His love from me, no matter how far I wander down the path of self destruction.
His unconditional love doesn’t depend on whether we rise or fall in this life.
This truth has gripped my heart: God loved me when I lost.
Not just when I was lost, but when I lost. When I failed miserably and felt like I let Him down.
When I didn’t win and achieve all those things I told Him I would.
The second promise I came away carrying was this: when I choose to surrender to Him, God will always be faithful to remove the poison that can grow in my heart. He will never let it be the end of me, because His endless life is mine to live in.
God confronts issues primarily, not because they are wrong, but because they are killing us.
He doesn’t want us to keep falling in to things that aren’t good for us, so will confront our issues. Not to judge, but maybe to say, ‘there is better for you, I see that is killing you slowly, and you’ve got all trapped up in it. Let me help you see that there is another way for you. Don’t fall in to that, fall in to me. I’ll catch you.’
I arrived carrying the weight of my struggle and I left carrying promise.
What a beautiful and mysterious turnaround.
I know I will be back, surrender is not a one time thing. It’s a constant practice of laying down our human desire to take control and placing our lives in the hands of the one who can and will transform us to be more like Himself.
Surrender is where we can victoriously embrace our freedom and live out our purpose.
“I tell my knees to buckle, the sooner I fall, you have it all. I tell my heart surrender, the sooner I let go, you take control.”
[Rita Spring – you have control]
You’ll be able to face the world unashamed
and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless.
You’ll forget your troubles;
they’ll be like old, faded photographs.
Your world will be washed in sunshine,
every shadow dispersed by dayspring.
Full of hope, you’ll relax, confident again;
you’ll look around, sit back, and take it easy.
Expansive, without a care in the world.
Job 11: 16-19