The ocean has always been an anchor of home for me—particularly along the Southern California coast.
I spent all of my growing up and teenage years near there and most of my best memories involve the sand, the sea and the surf. There is a lot of life wrapped up in those waves.
However, we’ve lived in Seattle now for over 20 years and my visits to the beach are few and far between. The Washington and Oregon coast do not compare—the water is near frigid even on the hottest days; I can’t remember when I’ve ever ducked under a wave to get completely wet—it’s just not warm enough.
Standing with my toes at the Northwest water’s edge makes me homesick. Thankfully, I was able to get my toes in the sand this summer as my husband and I traveled to Southern California for an extended vacation, back to our old stomping grounds.
Along the way we visited folks from North to South. (We spent the first 18 years of our married lives in Central California and some of our richest treasures are the friends we have there.)
One of our visits was an overnight with Rocky and Steve, bosom friends with whom we’ve walked through triumph and tragedy together. Our children and grandchildren provide the extra ‘glue’ that joins us via ups and downs and challenges. We are grateful to Jesus that we are still close friends and still walking in The Way.
Rocky and I took a walk early the next morning in her old neighborhood down one of my favorite streets. The sidewalks were lined with established homes, landscaped yards with vine-covered fences, the sound of morning sprinklers and birdsong everywhere.
The fulsome trees shaded us as we walked and talked passing flower pots on porches and the occasional stained glass window. It was a holy time.
We returned to breakfast on the front patio, strong coffee accompanying fresh, just-picked-yesterday peaches and toast made with sourdough bread from our favorite bakery.
Before we sat down, Steve beckoned me over to his easy chair and picked up a small book.
“I have something to show you,” he said. He was holding a disassembled copy of Oswald Chambers’ little devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest.”
“Jody, I want you to know I still read this book every morning when I have my devotions and I think of you. I ponder the days’ entry, pray for friends, jot a few lines in my journal while I sit here by the window. Every day it’s the same, right here with this book.”
I was overcome; they were still reading this copy?? Wow. I hardly remembered giving it to them.
But there on the inside cover he showed me these words,
Rocky, Jesus will talk to you every day through this book—
I promise! I know you’ll hear him speaking to you ‘cause your heart is so open.
I love you, Jody”
Twenty-five years. They had been reading that book daily for 25 years.
“We got a new copy of ‘My Utmost’, Steve continued, “but it’s just not the same. I write down peoples’ birthdays, the days my grandkids were born, a particular prayer need. It’s all right here, like a diary.”
The new leather bound volume with its shiny gold lettering sits on an end table—“it hasn’t been used yet,” he said. “The pages are too new and stiff.”
“I can’t find my way to the days. This falling-apart volume”—he pointed to the loose pages—”still speaks to me after all these years.”
I thought about all the things that had changed since we left—the burgeoning growth of the city heading north, a complete remodel of the 100 year old high school, a Whole Foods Market where my old grocery store used to be. Sadly even the yard of our old house was unrecognizable.
But this little book in my friends’ living room, like our friendship and our faith, was steady and constant over all these years.
When I texted Rocky to have her snap a photo of the inside cover, she typed these words in return: (sadly, the photo did not translate)
“Here you go. 25 years later we are still reading Oswald. I gain a different perspective every time I read these pages; it’s as if he penned the words yesterday.
“This little book also serves as a family record of events–births, deaths, marriages and so on are all recorded on these pages.
“Steve and I have mended this little book so many times over all these years. Alas! it is beyond repairing. But our new copy doesn’t ‘feel’ like my old friend.
I will keep my ole’ friend.”
What a beautiful picture of the anchor that is God’s word, coupled with the sure thing of a long friendship through thick and thin, keeping our “ole’ friends.”
We’re all worn out around the edges, have life ‘written’ on our skin, and parts of us may be unrecognizable. And yet there is Jesus holding us fast year after year while the waves of time wash over us, in and out, a constant sure thing after all these years.
Some things never change.
Linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee