Everyday Adventures: Who Needs the Beach?

Image credit:  Ersler Dmitry / shutter stock.com

Several years ago I had the chance to attend a work conference in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Rough, I know, but it was not my idea. I got recruited into going. However, once I was invited on the trip, I kept thinking about one thing: how soon I could get to the beach. 

After all, I’m from Indiana. We don’t have a lot of oceans in my hometown, so any time I’m within a hundred miles of saltwater my brain goes into beach mode calculating the most direct path to the waves. 

Of course, I was looking forward to the conference itself, but c’mon, we were only going to be five minutes from the ocean. Five minutes! Surely there would be time to slip over for some sun and sand.  

Unfortunately, our schedule was packed. We would be trapped indoors in workshops almost the entire time we were there, morning through evening.

Don’t get me wrong. The content was great. Inspiring. Helpful. Thought-provoking. But, hello!  The ocean was only five minutes away. What better way to process all I was learning than to reflect on the tranquil waters of the Atlantic?

Don’t get me wrong. The content was great. Inspiring. Helpful. Thought-provoking. But, hello!  The ocean was only five minutes away. What better way to process all I was learning than to reflect on the tranquil waters of the Atlantic?

The way I figured it, we only had one shot. If things wrapped up early enough, there might be a window in late afternoon to grab some beach time before dinner. 

As the afternoon wore on, I began to plant seeds with the rest of my group. Of course, they all loved the idea. By the time the last conference session ended, everyone was as excited as I was. 

Except for one guy. The leader of our trip.  

“I don’t know,” he said. “The beach is a lot of work. It’s messy, and we have to be back for dinner. I don’t know if it’s worth it.”

I could not have been more shocked if he’d grown a third eye in the middle of his forehead. This was the beach we were talking about. A lot of work? Messy? Not worth it? He was out of his mind.  

I didn’t get it. This guy was normally really fun. What was he thinking? We’d just driven ten hours and hadn’t even glimpsed the water. How could you grow up in the midwest and not be dying to get to the ocean? It’s not like you saw one every day.

And then it hit me. He didn’t grow up in the midwest. 

“Wait a minute,” I said. “I see what’s going on here. You grew up in Florida!”

I realized he’d probably been to the ocean more times in one year than I’ll ever be in my entire life.  No wonder he was so flippant about going.

I realized he’d probably been to the ocean more times in one year than I’ll ever be in my entire life.  No wonder he was so flippant about going.

Fortunately, he was a nice guy so he finally gave into the rest of us, and we got our hour at the beach. However, that story always reminds me how dangerous familiarity can be.  

The more time we’re exposed to something the less we may appreciate it.  

Think about the difference between dating and marriage.  When a couple is dating, all they can think about is the next time they’ll see each other. After only three years of marriage, however, a couple has seen each other a thousand days in a row. A thousand days later, things may not quite feel the same. The people may not have changed much, but their perspective is totally different. 

Same goes for buying a new car or a new house or getting a new job.  A year later, the car, the house and the job may still be awesome but we may not know it because it’s become old hat.  

Familiarity has a way of dulling our sense of wonder, gratitude and delight. It’s true of things like the beach, marriage and new cars, and it’s true of our relationship with God.

Familiarity has a way of dulling our sense of wonder, gratitude and delight. It’s true of things like the beach, marriage and new cars, and it’s true of our relationship with God.

Many of us reach out to God in a season of desperation, but once the crisis passes, we forget how good God was to us in that moment when no one else could help. That’s happened to me more times than I care to admit.  Praying seems urgent when I’m worried, anxious or scared, but not as important when everything is going well. 

There may also be moments where we’re blown away by a sunset or a tender moment with our kids, or encouraging words from the Bible, moments when we’re overwhelmed with thankfulness and worship.

Until we’re not.  

Those moments pass, and like my Florida friend, we may eventually take for granted something we once knew to be great.  So beware when the fantastic becomes familiar.  If we’re not careful, it’s all too easy to miss out on the goodness of God and the everyday gifts He’s placed in our lives.

Image Credit:  Ersler Dmitry / shutterstock.com

 

Jason Byerly is a writer, pastor, husband and dad who loves the quirky surprises God sends his way every day. You can read more from Jason in his books Tales from the Leaf Pile and Holiday Road. You can catch up with Jason on his blog at www.jasonbyerly.com.

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