Three grown men making a big sandcastle? Actually three fishermen digging up lugworms to use as bait. I watched their energetic efforts- a few moment frantic digging, then the second man leaned over to pick up the worms which he put in the third guy’s bag. After a short time they moved a few yards and did it all over again.
It made me wonder how much effort I’m willing to invest in things that I say are important to me.
My most valuable asset is time.
There will be 24 hours in every day for as long as I live. Demands are made on that time, expectations are expressed by others alongside my own, and decisions are made either deliberately or passively.
Why was I watching three strangers digging for worms? Was there nothing more profitable, productive or important to do? It was a choice I made, for a good reason. Bear with me a minute…
I often struggle with praying, with devotional spirituality. This may sound shocking or surprising, but I know I’m not the only one. Let’s dig into these dangerous quicksands before you dismiss or condemn me. Please understand that my Christian faith is deep and real: it is based on truth, revelation, and experience. It is a relationship of love and gratitude- as the Bible says, “we love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4 v19) More than a “religious” lifestyle, my heart of hearts has been captured by Jesus- and my deepest desire is to love, honour and obey Him.
How come I struggle then? Surely duty and/or habit, good old self-discipline will sort me out. I wish! Far from perfect, I struggle with routines and habit (either building good habits or breaking bad ones) and I feel dreadful when I compare my failures/weakness to the glowing stories of other believers.
In recent years I have had a breakthrough: more accurately, a realisation. For my spiritual growth, what keeps me growing is “being aware” and learning to become more aware. Specifically, it is awareness of God’s Presence in people, places and circumstances in daily life. I have discovered that if I am willing to invest time in looking, watching, listening and stillness THAT present moment can become a doorway to enter, or a window letting eternal Light through into my soul.
Hence, I can be found on the beach watching seagulls, shrimps in pools, waves breaking- or men digging for worms. I have discovered this is a valid way to pray, to reflect, to explore- to communicate with God. It’s why I take photographs and write posts like this.
There is a strong “tradition” within Christianity of contemplation, silence, waiting, and watching. Words may be used, or may not be necessary.
Therefore I am making a practice of finding space and investing time. Because Time is my most valuable asset- and I am giving it to God, in a choice of worship, a sacrifice. (I could go back to bed, eat a second breakfast or rush around in frantic activity- but I don’t find that half as productive!)
Three fishermen with a fork and a bag, working away at low tide. Who’d have thought that could be a spiritual “starter for 10” or a worthwhile time of devotional prayerful awareness of God. Treasure in the sand.
Instead of blaming yourself or feeling inadequate- why not look for the times, places and experiences when you CAN sense God’s wonderful Holy Love, His eternal loving-kindness? INVEST your time THERE. He’s worth it.