Small Oceans

by | May 20, 2013 | Life & Faith | 7 comments

Redondo Beach, CA  I was about 6
I went looking for a photo today, one that’s embedded in memory from happy times at the beach. When I found this essay I couldn’t help notice God’s continual message to me–He is always speaking, and the word I’ve been hearing him whisper these days is “Trust.”
Six years have passed since I wrote this and the message is still the same, a sacred echo to me from the Holy Spirit. Circumstances may be different, there are more wrinkles, deeper friendships, a richer deposit of grace in my life, but God’s love is the same, deep as the ocean. 


I’ve been learning a lot about trust these last few weeks as I read this book by L.L. Barkat. Not because the message has anything to do with trust, but because readers are encouraged to take time to listen for God in the small, quiet spaces of their days. It’s in the listening that I’ve uncovered or discovered, maybe begun to re-cover pieces of my childhood.

I have no idea where the discoveries will lead, but I’m finding in the act of setting aside weekly time to just BE with God outside, to look, rest, be open–that this form, the act of making room–is allowing for the discovery.

Throughout her writing, Barkat weaves the personal experience as a child from a family shaped by alcoholism and divorce. She describes homes where trust issues, loss and leaving are all a part of growing up.  In writing of her own struggles and memories I find the words resonate deeply; my childhood was like that, too.

I’ve seen how I carried my defenses and behaviors, my attitudes and fears about trust and authority into my grown-up life and into my understanding of who God is.
What led to this revelation? Making a space, small at first, for God to drop in His light.

Here is an illustration about having a set-aside time to listen, from writer Gertrud Nelson, cited by Barkat:

“These children (at the seashore) did not have the wherewithal to jump straight into the ocean, vast and powerful as it is. In fact, they barely wanted to stick their toes in the water.  So they stayed in the sand and dug a hole, a potential water container on a much smaller scale. In time they saw fit to begin coming and going to the larger body of water, 
carrying back a bucket at a time to fill their mini-ocean.”
Says Nelson, “In endless space we create a fixed point to orient ourselves: a sacred space….
What is too vast and shapeless, we deal with in smaller, manageable pieces…
we turn our backs on what is too much and slowly create the form that will contain the uncontainable.”
Form then, not discipline, per se becomes the buffer and the eventual conduit between the individual and the Divine, between the child and the ocean, between you and me and the sky.”**

God is speaking, revealing issues that go deeper than I know, not because of any discipline or ‘have-to’s’ or shoulds on my part but simply because I’ve created a conduit, a container. A small place for Him to pour healing in.

Because God is committed to shalom in my life, it is no wonder this discovery will last until I go home to be with Him. God is a faithful, kind Father whose greatest joy is to bring me into healing and freedom. I’m looking forward to the journey…with my bucket and shovel in hand.

**From Week 5 of “God in the Yard–Sky: Gratitude”


  1. WOW – faithfulness! I was thinking this morning about how God just wanted me more than anything else. Not the I could's, I shouldn't and I will's — but just me — plain and simple. I sure love our God.

  2. Mary–I'm praising God for His faithfulness to answer my/our prayers. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts.
    Thanks for reading.

  3. Nancy, you're welcome any time. It's such a blessing to share as I unwrap my Father's gifts.

  4. Ah, you're so sweet. IF I get to come, I'll make it a day early–promise!

  5. Do you know how much this makes me want to see you in November? Oh, so much. Can we sit and talk for hours? Please?

  6. Thank you for inviting us to your party, to celebrate with you as you open your gifts of freedom, healing, and hope. I feel honored to sit beside you and enjoy vicariously your joy in discovery.

  7. Glad the book is working so well for you- let's set up a play date with our buckets and spades? New Zealand or your beach?
    Many blessings- good to read how you are getting on.
    Since you prayed for me- I have been able to listen ever so much more easily- the effective prayer or the righteous, huh?


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